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Marchers bring traffic on highway to halt

February 21, 2009

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THATTA, Feb 20: Traffic came to a halt as participants of peasants’ long march, which started from Hyderabad on Feb 15, staged a sit-in on the Sujawal section of the Badin-Karachi highway on Friday, demanding amendments to the Sindh Tenancy Act 1950 and protection to legitimate rights of peasants.

The march organised by the Sindh chapter of the South Asia Partnership Pakistan entered the tiny town of Jhoke Sharif in Thatta district on Wednesday evening, where the marchers laid a floral wreath on the grave of great warrior saint Shah Inayat Shaheed, who fought a war for peasants’ rights in 18th century. The peasant leaders, including Zulfiqar Shah, Maryam Majidi, Punhal Sario, Comrade Ramzan Memon, Dr Pyar Ali Alana, Liaquat Jamari, Abdul Rashid, Taju Bheel and Zulfiqar Sarwech said that peasants had awakened and with the support of workers they would no longer allow feudal lords to rule over them.

They stressed the need for massive changes in the Tenancy Act and called for formulation of a new Hari policy to protect tillers’ rights. The act could no longer meet the requirements of the 21st century and it was high time the elected government took problems of workers and peasants seriously, they stressed.

They said that the act had become outdated and needed large-scale changes. The peasantry was performing a leading role in the development of national economy but it received almost nothing in return, they said.

They said that the rulers had made many promises with peasants and workers but they fulfilled none. The present government was now in a position to improve the lot of peasants and workers who were living in abject poverty, they said.

Three land commissions had been constituted since the inception of Pakistan but nothing came out of their recommendations, which as a result only strengthened the feudal system, they said.

They were highly critical of non-release of water downstream Kotri Barrage since last couple of years, making agricultural lands barren, spreading hyper salinity and ruining deltaic region of Thatta and Badin districts.

Later, the marchers resumed their march towards Thatta town.

DEVELOPMENT: The government had allocated Rs580.275 million for the ongoing and new development schemes for Thatta and Rs221.623 million had already been released, it was revealed at a meeting of Sindh People’s Development Committee at Darbar Hall, Makli here on Friday.

The meeting presided over by committee head Haji Mohammad Usman Jalbani and attended by heads of nation-building departments and DCO Manzoor Ali Shaikh was told that so far Rs140.585 million had been spent on 570 ongoing development schemes in the district whereas work would soon start on 54 new schemes.

The committee head informed the meeting that seven MPAs of the district had submitted 81 schemes and Rs33 million had been released.

Sindh chief minister had approved a water supply scheme for Jungshahi town, he said.