Drought in Thar Desert — myths and rationale

Drought in Thar Desert — myths and rationale

The ongoing catastrophe in the Desert Thar has been exploited by certain quarters of the society and a planned propaganda has been actively launched against the democratically elected Sindh provincial government of Pakistan people’s Party. These quarters have all of a sudden emerged with unrealistic claims that could also not be verified on ground but there is an untiring and wittingly knitted propaganda against Sindh government with baseless allegation of failing to impart its constitutional and humanitarian obligations with regard to relief operations. Certainly, such a notorious propaganda is infested with vested political designs, which are naked to human eye. However, these designs that surround the political future of Tharparkar and have been pinned beneath the prevailing political situation in Pakistan would be described at an appropriate time while it is imperative to do justice here with the actual nomenclature of Desert Thar.
Tharparkar is one of 23 districts of Sindh province and is spread over 77000 square kilometers. It is the continuation of ancient Indian Desert, which largest portion is in Rajasthan at one side while Desert of Cholistan is at its rear side. The demography of the entire desert region is almost same and despite new geographic demarcations between India and Pakistan. The joys and sorrows of the people of this desert are radically similar since centuries. Drought, famine and sand storms are very common in this particular region and the settlers of this heaven in a hell piece of land mainly depend upon nature’s blessing, the rain. One can not imagine the aesthetic beauty of desert Thar after heavy showers and also one can not calculate the misery of them during ‘No Rains’ period. This is the pattern of life in Desert Thar that has entered this twenty-first century. However, as there is an old maxim that every dog has his day, the fate of the people of Thar is going to see a fast and positive U-turn. The settlements of people of desert Thar in the region is widely scattered and is quite opposite to modern town planning as around 3000 villages in Tharparkar are situated at a long distance form each other as desert Thar is not a compressed town but a 77000 long ocean of sand. This typical situation has chased the desert people more or less every third year. The biggest challenge people face in desert Thar is water for drinking and for hygienic purpose and just to overcome this typical problem, they had wells for drawing soil water and smaller ponds called Tobhay. Dry season causes soil water seep into deep soil and the remaining water turns unfit for human consumption while Tobhays also dry up. In long dry season, people of Tharparkar migrate toward areas where irrigation system supports them for their living and their livestock. Seasonal hardship and migration attracts variety of health disorders and during current spell, the climactic change had hit them worst as the temperatures had reached a freezing point, which nurtured chest infection especially pneumonia among infants and under-age children. The situation was further deteriorated because of health care facilities situated at a mentionable distance.
As far as the issue of paucity of edible goods is concerned, it is not alone a problem in Tharparkar but a well-documented report has revealed that more than 40 percent of total population of Pakistan is facing issues of nutrition and 35 percent of children below the age of 5 die of nutritional problems every year. These figures are quite horrible but would it be fair to blame Sindh government of this natural calamity and if Sindh government is rightly to be blamed then who would be held responsible for similar anomaly in other parts of the country? People must take this point in consideration prior to holding any responsible for a natural calamity. In fact, those rulers were directly responsible for that catastrophe in desert Thar, who kept this area neglected for past 67 years. Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarian had an exemption as it did a lot for the people of Thar and is still striving to bring economic revolution in this particular area.
Pakistan People’s Party had always showed a quick response with a speed of a rocket for reaching the people in times of hardships. A similar situation had engulfed the people of Tharparkar during past 5 years but nobody could even get a glimpse of that similar disaster in 2009 because Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarian had briskly responded to that challenging situation. Relief operations were carried out on war footing basis. Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarian had in a similar manner reacted to the floods in 2010 and onward heavy downpour in 2011 and it was not a petty matter that more than 20 million people directly affected of floods and heavy rains were provided relief and rehabilitation. Perhaps, people of other provinces might hardly imagine the scale of disaster and Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarian’s brisk relief and rehabilitation operations.
Sindh government was already prepared to amicably handle the drought in desert Thar and had transported a huge stock of wheat in Tharparkar for free distribution. Vaccination programme for livestock was also placed under the category of quick launch. However, district administration had made a mess of whole planning and caused the effects of drought to reach an apex. The district administration had failed to share information with Sindh government on time due to which Sindh government has constituted enquiry committees to look into the flaws in the system and ascertain those that were directly responsible for that tragedy. Of course, those that would be declared as responsible for making a mess in desert Thar with their lack of inefficiency would face the music. Sindh government of Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarian had, however, took measure to restrict and then improve the situation and on directives of Co-Chairperson of Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarian, Asif Ali Zardari, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah had immediately domiciled him in Tharparkar and stayed in contact with Chairman of Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarian, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who had also reached Tharparkar and actively volunteered him for relief work.
Ministers in Sindh Cabinet, especially Sharjeel Innam Memon had also reached Tharparkar and volunteered him for relief work and fetched relief goods to the indigent at their doorsteps. Other Ministers including, Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar, Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, Jam Khan Shoro, Minister for Social Welfare, Special Education and Women Development Rubina Sadat Qaimkhani, Coordinator to Sindh Chief Minister Sharmilla Farooqui, Special Coordinator to Sindh Chief Minister for Relief Taj Haider and MPAs, MNAs and Senators from Pakistan People’s party Parliamentarian are busy round the clock in relief and rehabilitation operation for the drought-affected populous of desert Thar.  Till date, Sindh government has distributed 120,000 bags of wheat of 100-kg each among the people of Tharparkar free of cost, which market price comes to Rs 420 million approximately. Sindh government is determined to provide wheat to 259000 people of Tharparkar free of cost and if needed, more wheat would be provided. Besides wheat, bottled mineral water, highly nutritious supplements, medicines and essentials of life have been provided to the affectees in Tharparkar. Teams of doctors, paediatricians, gynaecologists, paramedics have also been stationed in hospitals in Mithi, Deplo and other parts of Tharparkar while mobile medical dispensaries have also started visiting far flung areas of desert Thar so as to ensure every single person in Tharparkar is medically covered and looked after. Medicines in abundance have been piled up in hospitals. Federal and provincial governments, non-governmental organisations participating in relief operations are being facilitated with required resources of means of communications. Special transport called Kekra are being arranged to reach far flung areas of Tharparkar as only Kekra could move on sand of the desert there.
Sindh Information and Local Government Minister Sharjeel Innam Memon during camped at thar, while briefing to the media said that Sindh government has offered Rs 200,000 as compensation money to those families that faced tragedy of death of their children. Additionally, Sindh government has allocated Rs 1 billion for relief and rehabilitation of people of Tharparkar. Rs 400 million have been released to Sindh Relief Department and Sindh Provincial Disaster management Authority has also been given Rs 200 million while Sindh Health Department is given Rs 50 million for purchase of medicines. Further, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has also opened an account titled “CHIEF MINISTER’ S RELIEF FUND’ and appealed to the philanthropists to contribute for affected people of thar and having declared Tharparkar as calamity-hit district, announced for special funds. Sindh livestock department has put at work more than 15 teams for vaccinating livestock and approximately 50,000 animals have so far been vaccinated. Additionally, relief operation has also been started in district Sanghar and district Khairpur. Sindh government is also working on long term plans for development in Tharparkar and creation of resources for the living of people there. A road would be constructed from Islamkot to Ghotki, which would bring revolution in lives of people of Tharparkar. Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has also announced the establishment of Tharparkar Development Authority, which would conceive development plans for Tharparkar. On the directives of former President Asif Ali Zardari, Sindh government has installed 120 reverse osmosis water filtration plants and each of these 120 plants, 200,000 gallons of safe drinking water is made available to the people of Tharparkar. These gigantic measures for the people of Tharparkar made them realize that Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarian is striving for bringing upliftment in Tharparkar and for making the people of Tharparkar economically strong and prosperous. Henceforth, People of Tharparkar have given their mandate to Pakistan People’s Party and rejected those that just exploited them.

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