A webinar was held on Friday in which speakers shed light on the plight of Thari people who are forced to consume subsoil water contaminated with toxic waste being discharged from coal mines.
The webinar was organised by the Alliance for Climate Justice and Clean Energy (ACJCE).
Azhar Lashari from the Policy Research Institute for Equitable Development gave an insight into the problems being created by coal mining companies in Thar.
He said mining activity in Thar was poisoning the precarious groundwater resources of the region, making the lives of locals miserable.
“Percolation of toxic water from Gorano and Dukar Chaou reservoirs and dumping of wastewater in farmlands have been posing a serious threat to the ecosystem and public health,” he said.
He also mentioned that while the water level of the dug-up wells was depleting in some villages, the sweet water of wells surrounding the wastewater reservoirs was getting toxic.
Muhammad Abdul Rafay from the Alternative Law Collective said testimonies of Tharis revealed egregious violations of environmental laws being committed by coal mining companies.
He added the judiciary had repeatedly held that such practices were a violation of the constitutional right to life and a breach of public trust.
Moreover, two representatives of the Thar community also highlighted water-related difficulties they had been facing. Rani Bheel, a resident of Bitra village, complained that coal companies were releasing poisonous water openly with no regard to human life.
“This is also harming our livestock. Over 50 buffaloes and cows, 70 camels and nearly 500 goats and sheep have died after drinking the poisonous water,” she said.
She further said that clean water wells were becoming saline and toxic, aggravating the troubles of local women.
Ameer Hassan, an office-bearer of the Thar Samaji Tehreek, said 20 dug-wells had become saline after the Gorano dam was developed.
The local community representatives said that over 50 children living in the villages located close to the dam had died over the last few years.