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MITHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah reiterated on Wednesday the government’s stance that the site of the reservoir being built in Gorano village, 38 kilometres from Islamkot, could not be changed now because there was no other option to dispose of runoff generated by coal mining companies.

He said that migration and displacement of people who happened to reside in the areas that fell within sites of mega developmental projects was ‘a natural phenomenon’.

“I am very much informed and updated about concerns of people (with regard to the reservoir) and their protest but everyone will have to be persuaded to give preference to the greater interests of Thar and Pakistan,” he said.

He was talking to journalists at Mithi Civil Hospital which he visited after a tour of Block-2 in Thar Coal Field, where the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) was busy working on mining and power generation projects.

He said the members of the committee he had formed recently would visit the site of the reservoir and hear grievances of every person residing in the villages that fell within the coal field area.

Mr Shah said earlier during his visit to Thar coal field that Thar Coal Project was one of the main features of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and urged the SECMC to ensure the project was completed before scheduled time.

He said: “If we can exploit coal to generate coal-powered electricity, it can make Pakistan self-sufficient in power generation”. All villagers living in the coal field area would be provided modern facilities of life and jobs in the project, he said.

SECMC chief executive officer Shamsuddin Shaikh said the company was building a modern school and a well-equipped hospital in Islamkot town.

During his visit of Mithi town, the chief minister stopped by a roadside canteen at Kashmir Chowk and had tea along with Minister for health Dr Sikandar Mandhro, MNA Fakeer Sher Mohammad Bilalani, MPA Dr Mehesh Kumar and other PPP leaders.

MPC calls for halting work on reservoir

A multi-party conference (MPC) held in Mithi on Wednesday condemned the government and the mining firm for ignoring protests against the construction of ‘hazardous’ reservoir in Gorano village and vowed to launch a movement against the project from Dec 9.

Local leaders of Sindh National Front, Sindh Taraqqi-pasand Party, Jeasy Sindh Qaumi Mahaz-Bashir, JSQM-Arisar, Awami Jamhuri Party, Latif Adabi Youth Forum, Sindh Labour Front and other organisations who participated in the MPC termed the reservoir’s construction a step towards gradual devastation of Thar.

The highly toxic water of coal mines that would be disposed of into the reservoir would destroy fertile farmland and force thousands of people to leave their centuries-old abodes, they said.

They criticised the chief minister for not visiting the hunger strikers’ camp in Islamkot during his visit of coal fields and rejected the mining firm’s claim the reservoir would not affect any person in Thar.

They call for immediate halt to the construction of reservoir, provision of jobs to locals in coal projects and introduction of new resettlement policy.

Govt focused on issues of poor: CM Talking to journalists during his surprise visit of Badin after returning from a tour of Thar, the chief minister said that he had focused the issues of the downtrodden since the day he was given the responsibility to lead the Sindh government.

He said that he hoped Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari would become next prime minister of the country. The party leadership would soon form bodies at district, taluka, union council and ward level, he said.

He said the government was fully committed to providing basic facilities to people and vowed that jobs would be given to youths on the basis of merit alone.

The chief minister expressed deep sorrow over the plane crash and the loss of precious lives including that of former singer Junaid Jamshed and his wife. A large number of PPP workers and general public turned up at Shahnawaz Chowk to meet the chief minister. Local party leaders complained to him about chronic civic issues of the city and he assured them of resolving their genuine problems.

The chief minister later visited Civil Hospital Badin (now Indus Hospital) and Thalaessimia care centre.

Published in Dawn December 8th, 2016

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