Coastal Communities live life worse than Prisoners of War

By: Salam Memon

Pakistan’s present democratically elected government, during last year had ratified International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights as well as the Covenant on Civil & Political Rights and after ratifying those UN Covenants the State of Pakistan has been made itself fully responsible before the international community to deliver all the basic civil, economic, social, political & cultural rights to each of its citizens. Even though the period of more than one year has been passed to that ratification, our elected legislatives neither have initiated any legislation through their elected parliament nor couldn’t they formulate even only a plan or road map yet in this regard. Hence, it could be clearly seen that there is no sign is being witnessed that in near future they would do something for implementing the UN declarations already ratified by them. In contrast, country’s vast majority of the citizens are completely deprived even of the facilities of potable drinking water and sanitation, right to education, right to information and access to better health care facilities as well as right to adequate food. The social justice has been provided only to the privileged citizens countable on fingers while a majority of common people in Pakistan have totally been neglected for.

As compare to other territories of the country, the coastal region of Sindh and its communities living in and around the Indus Delta having 7.0% of total population of Sindh province, since last one decade; are facing a worst deprivation & devastation of their history. They are rapidly loosing their historical natural livelihood resources i.e. a large number of richest fishing grounds, several brackish as well as sweet water lakes producing tones of fisheries stocks and providing natural sanctuaries to thousands of migrated birds for every winter, money-making agriculture along with thousands of acres fertile land and prosperous livestock etc due to varied constant manmade disasters e.g. world Bank funded notorious adverse mega drainage projects L.B.O.D & R.B.O.D, regular obstructions in flow of Indus River along downstream of Kotri Barrage towards Indus Delta because of blocking the River Indus beyond a number of dams constructed at its upstream, fluently dumping of tens of thousands tones of harmful poisonous industrial waste and urban garbage daily in drainage as well as sweet water channels taking from everywhere of upstream and dropping everywhere of downstream at coastal wetlands and vast beautiful grassy fields & grounds.

Coastal Communities living at and around the coastal belt and Indus Delta have numerous socio-economic dimensions. Indus delta and coastal belt of Sindh were full with countless species of fish, wild life and forest. Moreover, these areas were rich in natural livelihood resources so coastal communities were enjoying a satisfied life but since a decade, in the name of development, mega projects like LBOD, RBOD, Sugar Land City, and so many other projects have put negative impact on natural livelihood resources and those communities which were depending upon these resources were observed declining towards last breaths.

Besides, it is clearly evidenced that the state has completely neglected the deltaic coastal territories, their rich economy and their millions of the population. Hundreds of villages and tens of small towns stretched over 350 kilometers along coastal belt included in coastal territories of Karachi; Thatta and Badin districts are living a life worse than prisoners of war. The people dwelling in those areas have been deprived of all the fundamental human & civic rights. They have no facility of even only common potable water. Schools are either not found in a large number of villages or if rarely found elsewhere they could never be called as schools. They are usually established in twigged busted huts constructed by the people with their own cost; mostly found without teachers and inadequate and broken expired furniture and text books. The concept of health care is out of mind there. Majority of the population depends only on prayers, destiny and blessings of God. Not even an ordinary medical assistance is available around the radius of 50 to 60 kilometers. Every year during monsoon season, a large populace contains tens of thousands extremely vulnerable & feeble human beings dwelling in hundreds of remote coastal villages mostly disconnect & become isolated from the cities & towns or other safe places due to lack of infrastructure network i.e. paved roads and proper transportations or communications. Because of these vulnerabilities, even a normal monsoon season usually converts in a deadly disaster for them.

Thousands of most deprived and deliberately neglected coastal communities of Sindh are looking for solidarity towards activists all over the world who are committed with fundamental human rights and civil liberties. Pakistan’s Civil society should have to move forward for launching a decisive movement to recuperate the devastating historical natural livelihood resources, disappearing natural inhabitants and ecosystem of Indus Delta by restoration of adequate flow of River Indus towards downstream Kotri, to get the restrained River Indus freed by getting the dams decomposed and to put force on state to fulfill its international obligations to deliver the basic economic, social, political, civil & cultural rights under UN Covenants to its every citizen including the most deprived and devastated communities living around the Indus Delta.

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