BAHAWALPUR - Owing to prolonged drought in Cholistan desert, hundreds of thousands of people along with millions of cattle head have migrated to other areas as almost all the rainwater reservoirs commonly known as tobas have dried up due to uncleanliness.

“The government should declare Cholistan a calamity-hit area and take steps to save the lives of Cholistanis and their cattle on emergency basis,” demanded the local people. Cholistan Desert spreads around 6,600,000 acres of land which did not have rainfall for a very long period. Because of drying up of more than 1,200 tobas, the worst drought has hit the Cholistan thus the people are migrating along with their cattle. According to an unofficial statistics, 2 million cattle head which include camel, cows and sheep and almost 175,000 people who completely rely on the water which gathers in the tobas during the rainfalls have migrated so far from Cholistan. For a very long time, these tobas filled with sand have not been cleaned by the Cholistan Development Authority. According to official statistics, the government of Punjab every year accumulates revenue of Rs2 billion from Cholistan but the people are still deprived of water in this modern era. Rainwater which gathers in the tobas is shared by both the human beings human species.

The residents including Sooba Ram, Waryaam, Allah Bachaya, Hamid Razzaq, Sachoo Khan and Abdul Majeed criticised the government, and said that the revenue consists of billions of rupees which is accumulated from Bahawalpur but in return the Cholistanis were provided with no facilities. The residents of Toba Tharowali, Toba Qasaiwala, Toba Kitanawala, Toba Khokranwali, Toba Khariwala, Toba Bhochraanwali and Toba Akmalwala added that due to lack of attention of the government, most of the tobas had filled with sand and resultantly capacity of the tobas has decreased marginally.

They added that these tobas had dried up in the winter season and if the government did not take any steps, it would be difficult for the people to survive without water. They also criticised the Cholistan Desert Jeep Rally being held by the TDCP and said that Jeep Rally was an entertainment show and it was not beneficial for the common public. The government spends millions of rupees on Jeep Rally every year and if this amount is spent on the Cholistanis’ welfare, the basic facilities can be provided for them thereby raising their living standard.

The president of a non-profit organisation working for Cholistanis, Riaz Baloch, said that there were more than 1,200 tobas in Cholistan while most of them had filled with sand due to uncleanliness. Thus, government should take steps on emergency basis, he demanded. He said that by raising the living standard of Cholistanis, the government could generate revenue of billions of rupees annually.