BAHAWALPUR

If the government does not take immediate steps, drought in Cholistan could result in widespread famine after Tharparkar, the affected people feared, demanding that it should declare Cholistan a disaster-hit area.

The desert consists of 6,600,000 acres of land where average rainfall is 75 to 80 millilitre and in the last year due to lack of rains and uncleanliness of more than 1,100 tobas, Cholistan is going through drought.

If there are no rainfalls in Cholistan until April, there is a danger that it might take the same shape like Thar. According to the experts, Cholistan faces famine after every 10 years which can be prevented by taking timely steps. They suggested that the government should make active 10 mobile dispensaries of livestock in Cholistan. They also said that it should repair and make functional the 254-kilometre pipeline which Cholistan Development Authority had installed.

Soodiya Water Supply Project worth millions of rupees is 90 percent complete but facing funds shortage and has been left incomplete. They also demanded immediate release of funds for its completion, and establishment of the camps for the people and livestock besides provision of medicines and food. However, the Bahawalpur commissioner is giving the report of all is well which is not true, they said.

When contacted, Cholistan Development Authority Managing Director Aftab Pirzada said, “We are prepared to counter any situation. Repair work of pipelines is in progress and the Punjab government has released funds in this regard. Until now, everything is under control and if there are no rainfalls till April, the condition could get worse. But until then, we would make preparations in this regard. Medical camps in Cholistan are also being established.”

Owing to the drought in Cholistan desert, the people have started leaving the area along with their cattle on a large scale as 99% tobas have dried up. “The government should declare Cholistan calamity-hit area and take steps to save the lives on emergency basis,” demanded the people. According to unofficial statistics, over 200,000 cattle heads including camel, cows and sheep and almost 175,000 Cholistani people totally rely on water which gathers in the tobas during the rains. Because of uncleanliness, the tobas had filled by sand.

As per official statistics, the government of Punjab every year accumulate revenue of Rs2 billion from Cholistan but the people are still deprived of water in this modern era. The water is shared by animals and the human. The residents of Toba Tharowali, Toba Qasaiwala, Toba Kitanawala, Toba Khokranwali, Toba Khariwala, Toba Bhochraanwali and Toba Akmalwala criticized the government for the situation.

Sooba Ram, Waryaam, Allah Bachaya, Hamid Razzaq, Sachoo Khan and Abdul Majeed said that billions of rupees was accumulated from Bahawalpur but in return the people were not even provided with the basic facilities. Because of the lack of attention of the government, several tobas had filled with sand, they regretted.

Bahawalpur Division Commissioner Asadullah Khan said that the situation in Tharparkar was entirely different from that of Cholistan however the administration was ready to counter any emergency situation. He said that medical camps had been established at Derawar Fort with the cooperation of CDA, district administration and Hobara Foundation. He said that the government was taking every possible step for the people’s welfare in Cholistan desert.

However, the CDA managing director claimed that through the 254km pipeline, the people were being provided with potable water. He further said that a pipeline had been laid a 87 kilometre pipeline from 111-DNB to Nawan Kot, and the other 85 kilometre pipeline from 108-DD to Khar’di for this purpose. MD Cholistan further told that on Wednesday Government of Punjab had provided the funds of 10 million rupees for the repairing and maintenance of these pipelines.

Director Livestock Muhammad Asghar said that for healthcare and vaccination of cattle, mobile dispensaries facility was available at 77DB Channan Pir, Derawar Fort, Head Fareed, 229/1L, 52/B, 148/DB Sanghaar, Juggatpir, Chaapo and Mir Goth. ENT Specialist Dr Muhammad Sarwar said that during the check-up of Cholistani people, no contagious disease was found however medicines for the diseases related to weather are being provided for free.