Royalty of coal reserves for Thar: Nutrition must be priority

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By Dr. Abdul Razak Shaikh,

Tharparkar, the largest desert terrain in Pakistan is home to a population of 1.5 million. Unlike other deserts across the world, the Tharparkar desert is not barren and dry, its flora and fauna flourish during the monsoon season, transforming its sand dunes to rolling green hills. The district is ranked the lowest amongst provincial socioeconomic indicators, and 32nd as per national comparison.

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 Mithi Tharparker on Saturday to inaugurate the day-long ‘Thar Cultural Festival 2020’ with the support of Pakistan Rangers Sindh. The theme of the event is Salam Pakistan.

The Sindh government was fully committed to providing 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. Syed Murad Ali Shah pointed out that the SEC and SECMC were going to produce around 4,000 megawatts within the stipulated time. He expressed his satisfaction over the progress of the work saying that the work on both mining and installation of power plants was going on in full swing.

Government of Sindh already announced that the people of the entire Islamkot taluka would be provided up to 200 units of electricity free of cost, as the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had announced while inaugurating two power plants in March last year. It was 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.

CM Sindh has advised Tharis living in the Thar coalfields’ areas not to sell away their lands coming undermining. Rather, they should ask the Sindh government to get model villages like Senhari Dars built on their lands.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. Government of Sindh also acceding to Tharis’ demand, had already set up a NED University campus here were 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 to this campus. 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.

CM Shah also praised Sindh Rangers director-general Omer Ahmed Bukhari for making great efforts and extending his full cooperation in organizing the festival, which he described as a “grand cultural event in Mithi”.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 organizations and individuals had arranged folk dance and music programs to entertain visitors. Schoolchildren took a special interest in camel dance, horse race, tent pegging, dog show, military, and Sindh Rangers band, malakhra bouts, martial art show, and other such features. The chief minister later distributed cash awards, shields and certificates among winners of the competitions.CM Sindh said that the Sindh government would begin to receive a royalty of the Thar coal project from June 2020, adding that the royalty would be spent on Tharparkar’s development through the NGO Thar Foundation.

Pakistan Peoples Party has credit for providing communication facilities in the desert by constructing roads and an airport in Islamkot. Around 40% of the district’s population is Hindu which lived in harmony with the Thari Muslims.

THARI will also beneficial in employment, living standard, education, and health care and Royalty to be used for this poor area, which is also right of THARI people, and this act of royalty will Shine the PPP government.

Malnutrition is definitely there, Government and different NGOs are working the issue seriously. The main cause of death among children is two-fold. One, the early marriages of teenage girls who are barely able to conceive a child and then bear the birth pangs. Two, because of malnutrition among mothers the embryo does not receive the required nutrients during the first eight weeks of pregnancy. When the embryo becomes a fetus in the ninth week of gestation it is already a week and unable to develop as a healthy organism.

The concept of anti-natal care is nothing in these poor areas; they prefer to deliver the baby by local Dias.

This has a lot to do with poverty and lack of livelihood opportunities. Previously the number of infants dying was much higher because of the distances and a lack of infrastructure. Now the roads in Tharparkar are much better than the roads in many other districts in Pakistan. This is mainly thanks to the efforts the government of Sindh has put in during the last ten years.

Though malnutrition was visible on their faces and poverty reflected in the nearby villages where they come from. The team of Nutritional program Health department may send that area permanently and part of Royalty maybe use to Supply Nutritional Oil, Milk, Pulses and Sugar, and Wheat.