Dozens of Sindh Bachao Tarla (Save Sindh Movement) activists continued their protest and hunger strike outside the World Bank’s offices on Friday, demanding that projects like the Taunsa Barrage Rehabilitation Project be rescinded and declared disastrous.
They submitted a memorandum of demands to World Bank officials, but refused the bank’s invitation for a meeting to resolve the long-standing issue on the grounds that their demands should be included on the agenda.
They warned that they will launch an “Occupy World Bank” campaign in the near future if their demands are not positively responded.
The protesters, who were affected by World Bank projects, chanted slogans in favour of their demands. They called the bank “criminal” and accused it of weakening the Pakistani economy, while holding it responsible for Muzaffargarh’s devastation.
They said that it was the failure of newly rehabilitated Taunsa Barrage, paid for with the help of a Rs10 billion foreign loan that led to the devastation of Muzaffargarh District in Punjab.
The protesters were of the view that the barrage failed because of lack of attention to upraising and strengthening protective embankments, dysfunctional computer control system of the hoist gates and absence of hill-torrent managements. They demanded that the World Bank and provincial government initiate the accountability process in light of the Punjab Judicial Flood Inquiry Tribunal report. They also demanded that the bank cancel the Taunsa Barrage Rehabilitation Project loan and allocate unused funds for the rehabilitation of affected communities.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 3rd, 2011.