MITHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has announced that Tharis would start getting their due royalty on coal reserves from June this year.

He made the announcement while addressing the ceremony held in Marvi Cricket Ground here on Saturday to inaugurate the day-long ‘Thar Cultural Festival 2020’, which has been organised jointly by the provincial government and other stakeholders including the Engro Energy Limited (EEL), Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC), Thar Foundation (TF) and Shanghai Electric Company (SEC) with support of the Pakistan Rangers Sindh. The theme of the event is ‘Salam Pakistan’.

The CM said that the Sindh government was fully committed to provide basic amenities to all those who were being displaced from the project area of Thar coalfields near Islamkot. “Tharis will start getting their due royalty on the huge reserves of ‘black gold’ from June this year,” he said.

He pointed out that the SEC and SECMC were going to produce around 4,000 megawatts within the stipulated time. He expressed his satisfaction over progress of the work saying that the work on both mining and installation of power plants was going on in full swing.

Thar’s people told not to sell away lands, rather get model villages built by govt

Mr Shah said that people of the entire Islamkot taluka would be provided up to 200 units of electricity free of cost since the Sindh government had undertaken payment of their bills as the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had announced while inaugurating two power plants in March last year.

He noted that the mining firms and power generation companies working here had already achieved their financial close by arranging the required funds for coal extraction and power production.

He advised Tharis living in the Thar coalfields’ areas not to sell away their lands coming under mining. “Rather, they should ask Sindh government to get model villages like Senhari Dars built on their lands,” he said.

Appreciating Tharis’ culture and peace-loving attitude, CM Shah said: “Thar is not only rich in minerals, but is also matchless in its culture, natural beauty, hospitality and interfaith harmony ... Muslims and Hindus living in this desert region maintain exemplary harmony for centuries,” he said.

Heralding prosperity in the area in the years to come, the chief minister said that the mining companies here were providing jobs to over 70 per cent population of Thar and the jobs included those of officers’ grade.

He also said that acceding to Tharis’ demand, the Sindh government had already set up an NED University campus here where not only local students but people from other remote areas of the province were getting technical education. Even students from Gilgit and Baltistan were seeking admission in this campus, he added.

The campus, he disclosed, would be shifted from Mithi to a 350-acre site along the Islamkot-Mithi road. Before completing its tenure, this government would establish a grand university at the site, he said.

CM Shah also praised Sindh Rangers director general Omer Ahmed Bukhari for making great efforts and extending his full cooperation in organising the festival, which he described as a “grand cultural event in Mithi”.

He announced that Sindh Minister for Culture and Tourism Syed Sardar Shah was going to organise another such cultural festival in Nagarparkar next month.

Thousands of people thronged the Marvi cricket ground on Saturday morning to attend the festival where dozens of stalls showcasing Thari and Sindhi culture were set up.

Several organisations and individuals had arranged folk dance and music programmes to entertain visitors. Schoolchildren took special interest in camel dance, horse race, tent pegging, dog show, military and Sindh Rangers band, malakhra bouts, martial arts show and other such features.

The chief minister later distributed cash awards, shields and certificates among winners of the competitions.

Published in Dawn, January 5th, 2020