Experts, seismologists, geologists, environmentalists and people from different walks of life, speaking to the participants during the conference on the Karoonjhar Hills organised by ‘Thar Technical Forum’ at Islamkot Press Club , warned about the catastrophic conditions in the region if miners were not stopped from doing damage to different points of the hills.
Dayal Sehari, a geologist and the chief of the forum, speaking on the occasion, deplored the fact that high-ups of the government were not worried over the alarming conditions due to the ongoing granite extraction at the various points of hills and feared that if such a practice was not stopped forthwith in the light of the court orders, the region might face frequent earthquakes.
He said that the Karoonjhar Hills were among those very few ancient hills which had surfaced on earth due to certain natural changes. He informed the participants that the hills were among the seven oldest shields and were part of the Indian Shield, which had surfaced thousands of years ago and were naturally a great protection against the earthquakes.
Sehrai recalled that it were the Karoonjhar Hills which had saved the parts of Tharparkar and southern parts of Sindh when terrible earthquakes had played havoc in the bordering Indian states, killing thousands of people back in 2001. He said that a number of experts who had examined the rocks at Kharsar site believed that if hills at that site were further damaged, a volcano might erupt and could create terrible conditions in the entire region. “Extracting stones from such sites is tantamount to playing with fire. If it erupts, it will be next to impossible to save the region from its disastrous effects,” he warned, asking the high-ups of the government to hire experts to carry out thorough studies before it was too late to save the entire region from the looming catastrophe.
He said that all such illegal activities were also badly affecting the fertility of the soil of the Parkar region which, according to him, unlike other sandy areas of the desert was much more fertile, could produce every crop if properly provided water and conducive atmosphere without tampering its natural layers.
Atta Mohammad Rind, an eminent geologist and hydrologist, speaking on the occasion, said that due to the range of Karoonjhar Hills, the entire region had remained fertile since time immemorial. During the rainfall, certain particles flowed with rainwater and protected the lands from turning into saline or into marshes like many other parts of Tharparkar. He said that such acts would not only deprive people from cultivating their traditional rainwater but the livestock, the mainstay of the economy of Tharis, would get nothing to eat since all grasses and bushes would cease to germinate and grow in the wake of such conditions. He warned that with each day, due to unabated extraction of both gravel and granite, the region was fast losing its fertility and it could turn impotent for crop cultivation if all such activities were not stopped forthwith.
Advocate Wasand Thari, who is the president of Thar Bar Council, said that rulers were least concerned over the devastation and degradation of geography and environment of Thar due to coal mining and the extraction of granite from Karoonjhar. He asked the rulers to mend their ways and take the cries of Tharis seriously for their survival on their own land.
Thari said that it was beyond logic that rulers had allowed the companies to destroy the environment and ecology of the desert at a time when the entire world was deeply concerned about the terrible effects of the fossil fuels and hugely investing in saving the environment and ecology. He said that rulers, who had time and again issued the leases to extract granite from the Karoonjhar Hills, would be taken to task for the criminal acts to drag the lands from under the feet of Tharis.
Advocate Thari said companies enjoying the patronage of the government were not ready to obey the frequent court orders to stop their criminal activities even at the sensitive sites.
Ameer Azdad Panhwar, the central leader of Sindh United Party, said that natural beauty of Thar was being badly damaged and it was the need of the hour to come on the roads of the entire province to save heritage sites like Karoonjhar, which had hundreds of religious and historical sites and all needed to be protected with the help of international experts.
Allah Rahio Khoso of the Karoonjhar Suja Forum said that officials of the district administration were not around to implement a complete ban on the extraction at certain points. It was a cruel joke with admirers of Karoonjhar and a step to create serious environmental hazards in the region with such unchecked activities. Khoso asked the lawmakers from Thar to play their due role and stand with them to save the hills and its environment from further damages and destruction.
He reiterated the demand of the forum to include the entire Parkar as Wildlife Sanctuary and said that sincere efforts be made to include it into the World Heritage sites. He said that those flouting court orders would not only badly damage the hills but would also soon force them to leave their abodes. He requested the participants of the conference to exert pressure on the government and to write to international bodies to come to their rescue.
Zulfikar Ali Marri, a soil scientist, expressed his deep concern over the emerging situation due to the activities being carried out by the miners in different parts of Thar and said that it was very dangerous to disturb the ecology and environment of the Parkar region by cutting the hills. “All such acts are going to terribly affect the soil and the entire green desert will soon turn into a real desert with no botanical growth if such activities were not stopped forthwith.”
Subhan Samejo, the leader of JI in Tharparkar said that it was a criminal silence on the part of their lawmakers to keep mum over the massive destruction and warned of dire consequences if such activities were allowed to play havoc with such sensitive sites.
Syed Arif Shah, Obhayou Junejo, Bheemraj Meghwar, Kabir Bheel and others also spoke on the occasion and resolved to save Karoonjhar from further devastation for their future