Rs 18bn uplift package needed to change fate of Tharis

KARACHI: Executive Director, Society for Environmental Actions, Re-Construction and Humanitarian response (SEARCH) Pakistan, Waheed Jamali, said on Sunday that Rs 18 billion development package should be announced for Thar with immediate effect to build roads, lay water pipeline, dispensaries, small hospitals and other facilities of life, besides allocating special uplift package in every annual budget to bring the people of this troubled area at par with other citizens of Pakistan.

“The people of Thar have always suffered while almost every government has played role as silent spectator. It is media that has now stimulated this government to do relief work. The relief work being provided by the government is still not up to the mark. It needs monitoring by impartial international social and environmental organizations,” SEARCH chief said in an interview to PPI.

He said the droughts come almost yearly or after two or three years in Thar but the actual need is to ensure constant and smooth relief and facilities to the people of Thar.

“We need to remind the State of Pakistan of its obligations under international human rights law as well as under its Constitution because as a state party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the government is legally bound to provide relief to the people affected by natural calamities. It also needs to follow the commitments made for National Action Plan under UNCCD,” SEARCH chief pointed out.

Waheed said this drought is result of climate change and lack of environmental actions. Forest and other environmental departments have closed their eyes from Tharparkar as a result, the range lands are under heavy stress due to overgrazing and lack of water.

He said: “It has been observed from complaints of people that local government officials are involved in corruption and there is no monitoring and no participation from locals pertaining to relief funds, while NGOs are playing role no more than social mobilization or credit work. It is irony that even environmental NGOs have not done something appreciable.”

He said: “NGOs could not introduced social forestry, could not sustained cooperatives, could not plant trees and also could not introduced natural resource management practices. They just used funds. We need to monitor them and make them accountable.”

He stressed the need to ensure proper management of natural resources in whole Thar. “People of this area mostly dependent on livestock, hence, they need grazing areas, trees and water conservation. Hence the government role in this regard is mandatory.

He informed that natural resources of Thar are range lands, forestry, livestock, trees, birds, reptiles and water storage ponds, which required to be conserved. He asked the government to provide solar energy to the people of Thar for their basic needs.

He said that a canal established for Thar reaches only Naukot and Umerkot areas but not at Tharparkar. This canal should be expanded in whole Thar areas so that people could get water for their needs. The recent climate changes have left impact on the health and skins of Tharis, therefore they also need care in this regard.

He said the situation of drought in Thar is worst because of the fact that over 175,000 families have been affected and some of them have migrated to food secure areas. There is need to resettled these people in their native areas with immediate effect. Any dereliction in this regard could cause turmoil.

Drought in Thar is natural but the death of people and livestock is not like it. This happened due to lack of facilities and irresponsibility of the relevant authorities, he said.

SEARCH chief asked the government to adopt a positive approach and provide special relief package to the people of Thar who have been suffering from droughts since many years. Rs 18bn uplift package is needed to change fate of Tharis, Waheed concluded.

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