MITHI: Speakers at a moot on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) held here on Friday requested the villagers protesting against Gorano water reservoir to call off their agitation in the larger interest of the region as Tharis would get the most benefit from the project.

They were speaking at the workshop on ‘Thar coal and CPEC’s social, political and economical effects on Pakistan’ organised by the Tharparkar education department at Shaheed Benazir Bhutto auditorium.

PPP MPA Dr Mahesh Kumar Malani said that besides Sindh and Pakistan, Thar itself would get the most benefits from CPEC and expressed the hope that the huge coal deposits and the allied projects would not only help overcome energy crisis, but also usher in a new era of prosperity and progress in the desert region.

He urged people to avoid creating mistrust among general public about the CPEC projects and requested the protesting villagers to end their agitation. He admitted the water reservoir might cause some problems for the villagers but advised them that “we should be prepared to lay down some small sacrifices in the larger interests of Thar”.

PPP MNA Faqeer Sher Mohammad Bilalani said that it was the dream of their slain leader Benazir Bhutto to bring prosperity to Thar by exploiting its coal reserves. He hoped that thousands of people would get jobs in the projects being undertaken at Thar coalfields spread over 9,100 square kilometres.

Dr Ghulam Haider Samejo, chairman of the Tharparkar district council, said the time was not far when Thar would turn into a modern region of Pakistan.

He urged Tharis to reject rumours about negative impacts of projects being executed under CPEC and claimed the PPP leadership was trying to allay fears of locals who were protesting against the controversial reservoir.

Retired Brig Tarique Ahmed Lakheer of Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company said the mining firm was busy round the clock to extract coal from Block II of the coalfield and claimed nobody would be affected by the projects, including water reservoir at Gorano village.

He requested elected representatives and members of civil society to encourage the firm’s ‘sincere endeavours’ in coal exploration. The population displaced from Tharyo Halepoto and Sinhari Dars villages would be resettled in model villages being constructed by the firm, he said. He said the villages would have hospitals, schools, reverse osmosis plants and other projects to provide maximum facilities to the local population.

Tharparkar district education officer Naseer Ahmed Jogi briefed the participants about the positive effects of CPEC and urged them to strive for bright future of Thar and the country.

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2017