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July 27, 2020

‘Coal projects cause people’s displacement, pollution’

Karachi

July 27, 2020

Participants of a provincial conference on Saturday pledged to widen their campaign against coal power plants if not stopped.

They said coal projects were causing the displacement of people and polluting drinking water and affecting the environment.

The Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum organised the conference on ‘air pollution and groundwater’ in the coastal neighbourhood of Ibrahim Hyderi. The moot followed SOPs as the distance of six feet among the seating of participants was maintained.

Most participants were affected people of Thar coal power plant, Port Qasim coal power plant, and Hub power plant.

PFF chairman Muhammad Ali Shah said coal power plants at the coastal belt of the country had blocked creeks of fishermen and polluted marine resources.

“Pakistan was going behind coal power projects at the time when the world was giving them up. Even China, who was developing coal power plants in Pakistan, had given up at least 145 coal-based industries. Coal was the dirtiest form of energy,” he said.

Shah said energy was being provided to those people who were already having access to energy. “Drinking water is not available to people of Thar but now irrigation water will be diverted towards coal power plants. There is already water scarcity in Thar. Coal mining will also affect groundwater resources”.

Shah said 75 per cent land in Thar would be used in various names for Thar coal and people would be displaced. “The natural beauty of Thar will also get affected.”

He said there were other environment-friendly energy resources, but the government was not developing them.

Advocate Leela Ram from Gorano Dam presented the case of his village and said that “Thar is providing light to the country but itself is going into the darkness”.

He said they did not accept any development project that removed land under their feet. He said that under the name of development, grazing lands were being destroyed and people were being affected along with the natural beauty of Thar.

He said the world was going behind renewable wind and solar energy while “our government is developing coal power plants”.

To provide water to Thar coal mines, he said, Vejhiar Dam was developed two years ago without any approval.

Taj Muhammad Soomro, an affected person from Vejhiar in Thar, said only promised were made with Tharis “but in reality, nobody is ready to listen to our grievances, including the elected representatives.

He said if a four-acre land was needed for the dam they were grabbing 40 acres. “They told us they needed 40 acres but they have occupied 80 acres of land. The government has no plan for their resettlement.” Saeed Baloch, PFF General Secretary, welcomed the guests.