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National

May 19, 2017

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SHC body terms Gorano, Dukkarcho reservoirs for Thar Coal most suitable sites

SHC body terms Gorano, Dukkarcho reservoirs for Thar Coal most suitable sites

The Sindh High Court (SHC) committee has termed Gorano and Dukkarcho reservoirs for Thar Coal as “most suitable sites” and “environmentally, technically and administratively sound projects”.

The SHC committee has also proposed constitution of a joint commission to implement the measures it has suggested. The reservoirs were being built to store dewatered groundwater pumped out from Thar Coal mine in Block II against which a petition was filed by some of the villagers, some of them started a protest movement and made it a huge controversy.

The petition claimed that Gorano reservoir site was not suitable to store mine water and may negatively affect the environment of the area. The court formed a four-member committee of the experts, headed by senior bureaucrat Syed Asif Haider Shah to look into the issue.

The 37-page SHC report, a copy of which is available with The News, contains eight-point conclusion section along with 15 points recommendations section, two-point other options and ended with a final word. The report declares that both the reservoir sites have been selected and designed after detailed surveys and rest carried out by well-reputed organisations. It further says that the project seems environmentally, technically and administratively sound but it is coupled with a lot of assumptions and commitments. Moreover, the committee said, at this advanced stage no material changes can be considered without entailing huge costs and delays.

Addressing controversy about the number of population affected due to the scheme, the report said the number of villages, affected population and trees as given in the petition is highly exaggerated. “The figures given in the report of deputy commissioner Tharparkar are more authentic and are much less than what is being highlighted by the petitioners,” added the report.

It said that there are not more than 4,200 people who reside in surrounding villages of Ghorrano and Dukkarcho reservoirs. “None of the villages are located within the pond area, hence no resettlement is required. It is also quite evident that there is no Gaoucher area within the reservoir site,” it said.

The report said, “Gorano water is suitable for different species of fish, which tolerate high level of salt concentrations. Fish farming will be good source of income for the inhabitants of the area and can also be used for bio-saline agriculture.”

The committee has said in categorical terms that, “It is evident that operation once started cannot be stopped. Underground water has to be pumped out at a constant rate any cost.”

The report said the company should come up with an emergency contingency plan in case a pipeline is damaged or in case the reservoirs reach the critical level due to weather conditions. The report also said that employment preferences should be given to the people of the villages directly affected by the projects.

In the final word of the report, the committee has said that SECMC has taken massive corporate social work, which needs to be replicated by other local and foreign companies operating in Thar. The report said a joint commission should be constituted comprising deputy commissioner Tharparkar, director general Environment Protection Agency, representative of SECMC and Dr Ahsan Siddiqui to implement the measures suggested by the SHC committee.

When contacted, SECMC spokesman Muhsin Babar said they are studying the committee report and appropriate response shall be submitted after consulting with the company’s lawyers.

 

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