People of Thar saying big ‘no to coal’ have vowed not to sell their lands to Thar coal companies and announced to offer stiff resistance against the atrocities and threats of the district administration and the executives of the mining firms. Hundreds of villagers of various blocks of Thar coal gathered at ‘Peoples Convention’ organized by Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum in village Warwai near Islamkot, where they said that they were not against the development of the country but the so-called development of Thar was actually a destruction for its people, as they were being displaced from their land.Addressing the participants, Chairperson Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum Muhammad Ali Shah said that Tharis were fully conscious of their issues now and their struggle was successful.
“It is not development when you are being displaced,” he said. He said that the people of Thar realising the looming threats of the worst environmental hazards had started giving warning against this pseudo development. “We don’t want this fake development, we don’t want coal any more at the cost of the environment, ecology and beauty of the desert region” he added . Shah advised Tharis to launch a decisive struggle against the massive coal extraction through open pit mining.
“Tharis will retaliate for their rights and restoration of beauty of Thar,” he said. The PFF chairman urged the people to also take out their women folks in the protests as struggle would only be successful with their active participation. One of the leaders of the protesting villagers from Gorano wastewater reservoir , Advocate Leela Ram, said that they did not accept such development, which had displaced the local people. “When construction will start on 13 blocks in Thar, it will be total destruction for the Tharis,” he said. “How will we work for the development of Pakistan when land is being removed from beneath our feet” Haji Sanaullah Rahimoon of Warwai village said that their paths were being blocked; they were being displaced from their lands. He called upon the villagers to unite against the forces of companies.
“We will not sell our lands,” he said. Rahimoon added that the executives with the help of the district administration of Tharparkar district had made their lives miserable by carrying out massive coal extraction in Block 1 of Thar Coalfields near their village. ” The executives and the officials have failed to fulfill their commitments made with them about the compensation of their homes, lands and pastures” he added and vowed to put up the strong resistance to thwart any move to evict them from their centuries old village. He asked the hih-ups of Sindh government to come up with clear policies and plans about their resettlement at the proper area in Tharparkar district. Hafiz Mohammad Ramzan from the village Thario Halepoto said, “We will not give our lands to the firms at any price.
He added that the villagers were told by the local administration to visit their offices and get payment of the lands. “When you said these were unauthorized lands why are you paying us now?” he asked. Mohammad Nihal Mehranpoto, another person of Gorano wastewater reservoir area , said the Thar Coal companies were not providing jobs to the local people. While, responding to the issues raised by some of the locals regarding Thar Coal Block II, Mohsin Babbar, the spokesperson for Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) said “more than 95 percent of the legitimate landowners had received their payments, while compensation for rest of the landowners was being processed by revenue authorities of the desert district. The SECMC has deposited all the cost of the acquired land with relevant revenue authorities, he said.
Whereas, he added, that 850 acres of private land for the Gorano Reservoir project had been acquired under the Land Acquisition Act 1894 and the majority of the legitimate landowners had received their land compensation 3-4 times high of the local market rate.The spokesperson further added that land compensation for naqabooli and yaksaala lands would have to be decided by the by the concerned functionaries government of Sindh through policy and legislation afresh.He said that SECMC had successfully and amicably resettled the village of Senhri Dars to model resettlement with all the basic facilities and with all the land payments has been paid. Whereas he added, the village has been allotted 850 acres of extra land to the villagers for Gaucher (Grazing Land) purpose only, which iwas a unique compensation in the development history of Pakistan.