KARACHI: President Asif Ali Zardari has directed the officials of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) to begin a campaign in favour of the Zulfikarabad project to counter the negative propaganda of Sindhi nationalist leaders. He said that the Sindhi nationalist leaders who are campaigning against it are misguiding their voters.
He was talking to journalists and PPP leaders from Thatta district who had been invited to Bilawal House. During the meeting, Zardari also directed the party leaders to mobilise the journalists and writers to write in the issue’s favour.
Zardari believed that people were concerned about the project because they didn’t know enough about it. “Nobody will displace you from your land. This is your land as this is your land,” he said to the journalists and residents. “We have to stop the sea from engulfing the land in Thatta. I have invited you over to give you a true picture of the situation and to tell you what we are doing to save your land.”
According to him, the government had sufficient land for building Zulfikarabad and more land will be reclaimed from the sea. He said that people lived on only 10 per cent of the land while the remaining 90 per cent was inhibited. “The residents will be compensated reasonably if their land is required for the project,” Zardari said.
The president said that project was vital not only to take care of the growing population but also to create more jobs for the educated youth. “Residents of the area will be given preference for jobs and the youth will be provided with technical training to fill vacant posts.”
According to the chairman of Zulfikarabad Development Authority (ZDA), Lt Gen (Retd) Iftikhar Hussain, Zulfikarabad will be developed as special economic zone using the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, in China, as a model. Zulfikarabad had the potential of becoming the largest manufacturing hub of Pakistan. “The sea engulfs 18 acres of land every day,” he said. “The ZDA will construct a 100-foot-high and 60-foot-wide dyke to protect the city from the sea.”
Lt Gen Hussain also said that the project will stop sea intrusion, save mangroves and boost the fishing business and alterative energy resources. “Around 1.3 million acres of land have been allocated for the project, out of which 376,000 acres have been acquired,” he said. “About 957,000 acres have to be reclaimed from the sea.”
The president directed the Sindh government to take precautionary measures as soon as possible. He ordered that emergency phone lines be set up at the district level to deal with rain emergencies. He also directed that private dykes and encroachments be removed from the waterways.
In his briefing, the chairman of National Disaster Management Authority told the president that the provincial wings of the authority was meeting with relevant stakeholders and the district officials to review the pre-emptive measures. He said that Districts’ Monsoon Contingency Plans have been prepared and they also highlight all the responsibilities of different district departments.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2012.
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