Thar people brave ‘adverse effects’ of coal projects: report

The hardships of local communities in Thar persist due to the ongoing coal projects in the region, as Tharis continue to deal with their adverse impacts, said a research study conducted by Rural Development Policy Institute (RDPI) and launched by Alliance for Climate Justice and Clean Energy (ACJCE), a civil society group.

The research titled “Coal Rush: The Impacts of Coal Power Generation on Tharis’ Land Rights” was launched in a webinar on Wednesday and attended by experts and activists.

Lead author of the research, Lecturer Quaid-i-Azam University, Dr Ahsan Kamal, discussing the key findings of the study, pointed out that Tharis are absent from debates on Thar coal, despite their numerous protests.

He added that research shows Thari’s land use is dynamic and environmentally friendly, and local culture and economy depends on historic access to private, public and common land for grazing and cropping.

Dr Kamal further said that coal projects are increasing land and water insecurity, which will have long term impacts for current and future generations. “We cannot sacrifice our people for profit. Thari voices must be central to all conversations on Pakistan’s energy future,” he urged.

Discussing the legal and policy gaps in land acquisition for coal power projects in Thar, Associate at Alternative Law Collective, Zain Moulvi said that Thar’s experience with coal projects has unveiled the flawed and draconian colonial era land acquisition laws and procedures in Pakistan.

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