The leaders of Sindhi Hari Tehreek and other leaders in a moot on Saturday in Mithi demanded that the government adopt a ‘people-centered’ policy to deal with land acquisition and resettlement related to coal mining, power plants and associated projects in the district. The participants of the moot included Dr Dildar Leghari, the president of Sindh Hari Tehreek Ubhayo Junejo of Awami Tehreek, Krishan Sharma of PTI, Lal Jrwar, salah Hingorjo, Ashok Majrooh, Noor Mohammad Talpur, Noor Ahmed Udhejo and others leaders and activists. Terming the proposed Thar land acquisition and resettlement policy as crucial to deal with the peculiar conditions of the local communities and their land entitlements, they said the policy must be developed through a broader consultative process, involving the local communities as a primary stakeholder. They said the promise of progress and prosperity, which the government made with the local people of Thar, had gone sour in the face of ever-increasing injustices with the local people. “Dispossession, displacement, deprivation and disempowerment are all that the local people of Thar have gained in wake of land acquisition for coal power projects in their homeland,” they observed. The participants of the moot deplored that the ongoing land acquisition and resettlement processes in Thar were characterized by arbitrariness, exclusionary decision-making, non-transparency and extraordinary delays in payment of compensation amounts.The acquisition of any more land in Thar must be stopped with immediate effect till the adoption of the proposed policy, they added. They said that laws such as the Land Acquisition Act 1894, under which land acquisition was taking place in Thar, were the relics of Pakistan’s colonial past regime. “The citizens’ rights to property under those colonial laws were subject to state’s unscrupulous demands for expropriation.” “Employing the emergency provisions of the colonial law in Thar was meant to bypass the due process for land acquisition, avoid protection of rights enshrined in Constitution and deprive the local communities of adequate amount of compensation against their land and other assets,” they pointed out. They alleged that the government was prioritizing commercial interests of private companies over the basic human rights of its citizens. They noted with deep concerns that depriving the locals of their ancestral homes, native villages, farmlands and pastures was causing poverty and destitution in the desert district of Tharparkar. The speakers at the moot lashed out at Sindh government for its alleged indifference and callous attitude towards those displaced by the torrential rains and the subsequent breaches to the dykes of the drains and irrigation canals and their outlets. “The massive corruption has been committed by the officials of revenue, irrigation and other departments” they added and alleged that those affected people were yet to be compensated of their massive loses of their crops and the houses damaged by the deluges. They said that the provision of no alternative land or any compensation against the pastures locally called gunchars acquired for mining and power plants was causing serious livelihood challenges for the overwhelming livestock dependent local population The leaders of the Tehreek and other political and activists suggested that instead of forcefully buying land from the locals and completely alienating them from their land in Thar, the government should acquire their land on a mutually-agreed, time-bound lease which should be paid annually.