DADU: This is regarding a foreign oil and gas company working on the Kirthar Hills, near the town of Wahi Pandhi. Being an educated youth and a responsible citizen, it pains me to think that the company continues to excavate resources, robbing the area’s underprivileged community of their rights. The company has occupied agricultural lands without compensating their rightful owners. Furthermore, instead of providing jobs to local educated and skilled youth, as per the Petroleum Exploration and Production Policy, which makes it obligatory for companies to employ local people, the company prefers to hire human resources from outside the province. The policy also states that if any of them are unskilled, the company has to utilise special funds to train local hires.
In matters of development and social welfare infrastructure, tall claims and ground realities would be clear if any supreme institution inquired about annual funds of development and where they were being spent. One will then realise that the development is only on paper, even though social welfare is an obligation upon companies, according to Article XXIX of the Petroleum Concession Agreement. Wahi Pandhi and the surrounding areas are still deprived of these rights.
There are also serious threats to the environment. The company is cutting down trees, destroying natural habitats of animals and the people’s agricultural land. This may yield bad results in the future; people may pay the price in the form of famines, diseases and declining water levels.
Being an educated stakeholder of the area, I went to meet company officials but each time, we were welcomed with harsh words and bad behaviour. They invaded us and think we do not even have the simple right to ask about our rights. I hope the relevant institutions take notice of these facts. They must behave in a responsible manner to ensure the rights and benefits of the local people.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2016.