Thar gets Airport instead of food, water

BY: | Waqas Jawaid Arain |

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Tharparkar district basically is one of the twenty nine districts of Sindh province in Pakistan. It is largest district of Sindh by land area.

The region derives its names from Thar and Parkar. The name Thar is from Thul, the general term for sand region or sand ridges and Parkar literary means “to cross over”. The region was earlier known as Thar and Parkar, later they became one word.

It has the lowest Human Development Index of all the districts in Sindh. Tharparkar is the only fertile desert in the world.

The district is divided into 7 Tehsils:

                                                                                           MITHI

                                                                                            DIPLO

                                                                                            UMERKOT

                                                                                            CHACHRO

                                                                                          DAHLI

                                                                                          NAGARPARKAR

                                                                                           KALOI

At the time of the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the Hindus were 80% while the Muslims were 20% of the population.

On Wednesday Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari inaugurated the Mai Bakhtawar Airport, built near Islamkot town.

Construction of the airport, spread over an area of 1,000 acres, has been completed in about four years at a cost of around Rs1 billion.

Initially, it was to be named as Thar airport but has now been named after a peasant leader, Mai Bakhtawar Lashari, who had laid down her life on June 22, 1947 fighting against a feudal lord near Jhudo town of Mirpurkhas district.

Read More: Sindh’s fearless daughter

Modern machinery, equipment and facilities have been made available at the installation. The airport has a three-kilometre-long runway, according to an official. The insignia was also installed atop the building of its arrival and departure lounges.

The most important thing here is that city of peacocks is getting the things which the people of Thar never demanded to get.

In a far flung village in Thar, residents are demanding better options for clean drinking water.

People of Thar face various issues due to waterborne diseases, inadequate health facilities, famine and lack of basic infrastructure.

According to a report by Sindh health officials in 2016 total of 143 children aged up to five years in Tharparkar district died because of malnutrition and other causes.

Over 1.3 million people live in Thar’s 2,500 villages. So far, only 400 RO plants have been installed and many of them do not function properly.

Ever since the outbreak of waterborne diseases in Thar, more villagers have been approaching authorities to install more plants and to expand the project.

They are particularly urging the Sindh government to provide more plants without discriminating against their political affiliations.

In 2016, the members of National Commission For Human Rights (NCHR) visited Thar and expressed dissatisfaction over the worsening situation of the masses living in the drought hit district of Sindh province.

The group members maintained that the deaths of hundreds of children is proof enough of the alarming situation in rain-dependent arid zone, terming the negligence shown by the Sindh government as the “height of bad governance.”

Ranikhet and Wildlife Department

Recently at least 445 peacocks have succumbed to the outbreak of Ranikhet disease in Mithi. The birds were died in Sajai, Chaho Sothar and Kharwaro villages of Deeplo Tehsil and its surrounding area.

The locals have blamed Wildlife Department for its inaction despite the epidemic viral disease Ranikhet is taking lives of the unprotected peacocks.

Since five years, the death rate of the desert region’s peacocks continues to rise due to the spread of such diseases mostly in the summer. In 2015 alone, almost 200 peacocks reportedly died in the Thar area due to similar reasons.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in his address today stated that “Thar is the only place in entire Pakistan where record development work has been carried out. Pakistani politicians & Media did injustice to the people of Pakistan by not telling them about revolutionary social and economic changes in Thar.

I’ve visited Thar two times and last time was in 2017. I do remember that how difficult the journey was to reach Mithi, Islamkot and then to Nangarparker, last town along the Indian Border. There was no road after Mithi and how difficult the journey was in an old jeep.

But very sorry to say that during my visit I didn’t find anything exceptional that PPP had worked for people of Tharparkar in last 10 years. The district even doesn’t have a proper hospital where people can do their treatment.

Last year three organisations joined hands to build a 100-bed hospital in Tharparkar where the residents of the district would receive modern and free of cost healthcare services.

A tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Thar Foundation, The Indus Hospital, and Shahid Afridi Foundation.

The MoU was signed by Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company CEO Shamsuddin Shaikh, The Indus Hospital CEO Dr. Abdul Bari Khan, and advisor to CEO at Shahid Afridi Foundation (SAF), Zeeshan Afzal.

Thar Engro Coal Power Project

All of a sudden one thing which I want to mention about the Thar Engro Coal Power Project (Thar-ll), a coal-fired power plant which is under construction in Tharparkar District, 25 kilometers from the town of Islamkot near the village of Singharo-Bitra.

The project is being developed as part of the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor by Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (a joint venture between the government of Sindh and Engro Corporation) and China Machinery Engineering Corporation in the Thar Block-II of the Thar Coalfield.

Unfortunately, Sindh has been brought to a very bad name when it comes to governance. If one talk about development projects, the first question come to the mind that what amount of kickbacks are involved.

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