The tribals of Suleiman Mountains
No water to drink, no vegetation for livestock, no school, no healthDear Mushtaq: Absolutely right. Extraction of Uranium is a huge threat to people's health, a health problem which would, in fact, affect the generations. It is a threat which would seep to next generations. The indigenous and tribal peoples the world over are campaigning against Uranium extraction like the aboriginals in Darwin (Australia).
But the question remains 'what can be done' against this.
Mushtaq Gaadi wrote: Dear Wasim, Thanks for sending this brief note on the problems of tribal people living in Suleiman mountains. I would just like to mention the acute public health problem related to the vast operations of the extraction and processing of uranium in the area. As this is considered the matter of national security, the government don't allow to undertake any research and documentation of this problem. Regards, Mushtaq
Wasim Wagha wrote: Dear friends, When the Baloch from Balochistan province struggle against the brutal exploitation of their natural resources, and at least their demands are well known nationally and internationally, the exploitation of other Baloch tribes, Buzdars and Qaisranis, in the Suleiman Mountains go unchecked and unchallenged. The area is being exploited and deprived of very basic facilities just as if it is a 'foreign land'. A local weekly newspaper 'Al-Manzoor' of Taunsa Sharif (District D G Khan) has published a detailed story of their sufferings (16-23 May 2007). Below are some highlights:
- Drinking water: In papers, fifty water supply schemes have been constructed with millions of rupees, but on the ground, not a single one exists. The people and animals drink water from the wells and ponds together.
- Education: There are few high, middle and primary schools but without staff/teachers – the buildings look like 'bhoot-bangley' – ghost places.
- Health: There are only three basic health centers but without doctors; the doctors reside in cities and run their private clinics. Women and the worst victims of non-availability of health services; they have to come all the way down from the mountain to Taunsa city.
- No water/No Livelihoods: Diverting the hill-torrents into drains, to save newly constructed Chashma Right Bank Canal in the plains, has further dried the area – no water, no vegetation. This is adversely affecting their major livelihood of livestock rearing.
- Identity: The National Database Regulatory Authority (NADRA) mark their area, on identity cards, as 'Ilaqa-e-gher', - an Urdu word which means 'foreign land'.
This is only of the tip of the iceberg. The exploitation and discrimination date back to partition times. Against their will, at the time of partition (1947), they and their tribal area were included in Punjab province (district D G Khan) as "De-Excluded Area". This decision resulted in a series of endless discrimination e.g. on National Identity Cards (NICs), instead of writing 'tribal area', their area is marked as 'Ilaqa-e-gher', - an Urdu word which means 'foreign land'. The area is rich in minerals like oil, gas, gypsum, Uranium, fuller-miti and many more, and the government is extracting these resources without any royalty to them. Wasim Wagha, Centre for Indigenous Peoples of Indus (CIPI) DAMAAN Development Organization.