Several residents from seven villages of Sindh have voiced their concern over a 10-kilometer pipeline carrying contaminated wastewater from the Gorano wastewater reservoir into their villages.
The affected villages include Mehari, Harimar, and Dukaruho.
The villagers have been protesting outside the Islamkot Press Club in Tharparkar against the actions of the Thar Coal Authority and the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC). Speaking with the Friday Times, the protestors claimed that wastewater was being dumped into the land surrounding their villages, poisoning the local water supply and ruining their agricultural and animal grazing land.
They alleged that the Thar Coal Authority has started funneling toxic wastewater into an open field. No wall or protective barrier had been built around the field to prevent seepage. Villagers had used the field as a Ganunchar (grazing land for livestock) for centuries, and added that they had not been compensated for any of the land being used.
Village residents Chetan, Sher Mohammad, Baghat, Raso, Burhan, Shano and others, women and children in tow, gathered at a damaged pipeline, fearing that more water from the wastewater reservoir would wreak havoc on their settlements. Gushing water from the broken pipe has already inundated low-lying areas, ruining the land for livestock or agriculture.
The villagers said the wastewater would turn their villages into marshlands, forcing them to migrate from their ancestral homes to more fertile areas. They reported that their water wells, the only source of drinking water both for the villagers and their livestock, had already turned toxic and brackish. When villagers approached officials to refrain from spilling wastewater near their homes, they claim the officials responded with threats.
“Not only has the water become toxic but the trees, the only source of fodder in winter season for our livestock, are drying up,” the villagers said, comparing the wastewater drainage to the destruction following a suicide bomb attack.
They said that the proposed site at DukarCho to collect wastewater, which is generated from the coal mines, was nearly 45 kilometers away, too far to be of use to the Thar Coalfields.
“The contract for laying the pipe and other structure was awarded to Pak Oasis Company, the same firm, which had already created a mess in Thar and committed the massive corruption in the instalment of costly [reverse-osmosis water treatment] plants which all have gone faulty due to the use of sub-standard material” one villager explained.
The villagers said that they site was selected by authorities of Sindh Coal Authority without following proper procedure, including public hearings.
In response, the Thar Coal Authority has claimed that they properly acquired 260 acres of land in the area for the disposal of wastewater.
No officials from the mining firm could be reached to respond to the allegations for this article. Certain officials said that a media coordinator from the mining company would brief the press about the situation, but at the time of publishing, the provided phone number remained switched off.