KARACHI - The community people, political and civil society activists on Friday demanded the government to abandon the multi-billion proposed ‘Zulfikarabad city project’ near Karachi in Thatta district of Sindh.At a consultation organised by the Trust for Conservation of Coastal Resources, which is the first-ever conservation organisation established, by indigenous women of fishing community in Pakistan, titled ‘Zulfikarabad - a Disputed Scheme’, the participants termed the controversial project as non feasible as it will create environmental hazards as well as change in the demography of the province.Held at the office of Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO), the event was attended by the community people of Keti Bandar, who are directly victim of the proposed new town as their ownership rights of lands have been cancelled by the government in the area.The participants put light on the booklet “Zulfikarabad - a Disputed Scheme”, which translated and printed by the TCCR in Sindhi written by Naseer Memon, a renowned social activist. The book is focused on Zulfikarabad’s hidden truths against the people living at the site.Zubaida Birwani, executive director of the Trust for Conservation of Coastal Resources sharing details of the booklet, said that Sindh government had established Sindh Land Management and Development Company to acquire land for the Zulfikarabad project. The company did not waste time to occupy 200,000 acres by declaring it illegally occupied land. The action prompted protest by local fishing communities, settled in the areas since their forefathers. Civil society and political parties supported the poor voiceless fishing communities and eventually government had to stop land occupation, Zubida Birwani quoted the book.Government of Sindh claimed that China will invest money to develop the mega city.Regarding China factor, she quoted the book saying that the China has strategic interests in the area. It’s ‘String of Pearls’ strategy aims at extending its economic and military interests in the region. Being the second largest economy of the world, China wants to establish its economic and military writ in the strategic corridor extending from Strait of Hormuz to Strait of Malacca, the booklet of Naseer Memon stated.Regarding environmental issues due to proposed project, the booklet further stated that the Indus Delta is jewel in the crown of Pakistan’s ecological heritage. For its rich biodiversity, the Delta is declared as a Ramsar site and attains great environmental significance. Indus Delta has already been degraded due to shortage of fresh water flows and resultant sea intrusion. The four talukas are among the most degraded areas in the Delta.“In case of new city, the land might be saved but not for the benefit of local poor communities. The available land will become a magnet for private sector investors,” the booklet added.Ali Muhammad Khan of the WWF while sharing the environmental aspect of the proposed project said that the area where the city was proposed houses about 50 percent of the country’s remaining mangroves cover most of that is declared as protected since 1950s. He added that more than 135,000 acres of the proposed site are covered with mangroves forests, which are the source of protection to save from the Tsunami and other cyclones.He underlined the need to initiate a consolidated struggle against the controversial Zulfikarabad project.Ali Hassan Chandio of Sindh National Movement highlighted the political aspect of the project. He said that the indigenous population of Sindhis would turn into minority as establishment of the Pakistan never honoured the constitution, so people of Sindh will not accept such harmful scheme.Nasir Mansoor of Labour Party also called for initiating a mass movement against the project.Locals of Keti Bandar, who are directly affectees of the proposed project, also participated in the event.An elder Nabi Bux Samon of Keti Bandar narrated his story of how the government has cancelled his ownership right on his over 100 acres lands in the area which comes in the proposed project.The locals while protesting on roads and filing petitions in the courts challenged the step of the government, which had compelled the provincial government to cancel the notification of the canceling of lands’ rights. The government formed a committee to look into the appeals of the locals, but according to the residents, the committee of Board of Revenue Department has not come up with decision for last over one year.Nabi Bux recalled that the government of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto allotted the leases of lands to them but now the government which come after the name of Bhutto, snatching the same.The locals vowed that elected representatives of ruling PPP has no courage to visit the area and tell the so-called benefit of the proposed Zulfikarabad project. They further said that they will let the President or any other government authority to inaugurate the project.The participants also suggested for challenging the project in the Supreme Court as this scheme was not feasible on the ground of environment and political basis.