Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Gwadar Deep-Sea Port not to benefit the locals

By Aziz Sanghur

Gwadar Deep-Sea Port Project would not provide benefits to the local
people of Balochistan, due to lack of policy by federal government.

People of Balochistan have strong reservations over the project, which
needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Federal government has
failed to take the Baloch parties into confidence in this connection,
according to local people's viewpoint.

A source said that it was a fact that when a mega project is launched
in world with a policy for protecting the basic rights of the local
people. But the Gwadar Port Project has no such policy to preserve the
local people's rights, he added.

It is officially learnt that the project was launched in 2002, grand
breaking ceremony was inaugurated by President General Pervez Musharraf.
While addressing the ceremony, the president said that the port would
bring prosperity in the region. It would be hub of economic activities
in the Central Asia, he added.

He also announced to confirm 45 local employees, who are working at the
Gwadar Fish Harbour. But the concerned authority had still not
confirmed them.

A source claimed that while signing the Gwadar Port Project, the
Pakistan and China governments did not consider the skill-developing
programme for the local people.

He said that the training centers should have been set up before
launching project, so that un-skilled people could qualify to work at the
port.

Gwadar District is backward area. There are no basic facilities,
including education. The local people can not qualify to work in the port due
to lack of education. The port authority would demand the qualified
people, after completion of the mega project.

Local people said that first the government should start technical
institutes in Gwadar district, before launching the project. In three years
period, thousands of students would have been qualified for the jobs.

Politicians said that all over the world it was a concept of the mega
project to protect the local people' basic rights. But government has
been ignoring the local people rights since 2002, they added.

The local people believe the port is being constructed for non-locals.
They would be turned into minority when the qualified people would come
out of province, they added.

According to Baloch nationalist, the government has done nothing to
provide employment to 16,000 graduates in the province and cautioned that
denial of jobs to the youth might force them to anti-social acts.

They lamented that 16,000 graduates had been jobless for three years
but the rulers were least worried about their plight.

A large number of agriculture graduates and engineers staged a token
hunger strike in front of the Quetta Press Club, the other day. They
accused the Gwadar port management of recruiting youths from areas outside
Balochistan.

National Party leader and Member Balochistan Assembly, Mir Jan Muhammad
Bulaedi said the government made tall claims about the large projects
but the factual position was that the youths from Punjab and Karachi had
been adjusted in the jobs at the cost of local population.

He claimed that provincial cabinet members and officials were getting
land allotted to themselves in Gwadar to sell that at high prices as
commercial plots. He said Balochistan was richer in resources than other
provinces but its people were the poorest citizens of the country.

Federal government has also ignored the environmental aspect. The port
was started without Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Environment
Protection Agency, Balochistan also lodged its protest against the
project and Director General EPA, Balochistan prepared a PC-1, which has
also been submitted, to the Federal Ministry of Environment, asking them
to start the water and air analysis.

After the completion of the test, the project should have been started
but the federal government had allowed the foreign company to start the
construction of the port.

By doing this, the federal government had bypassed the EPA,
Balochistan. EPA, Balochistan also demanded Rs. 9.13 million for carrying out the
EIA but so far the government has not responded positively.

A parliamentary committee on Balochistan, made by former prime
minister, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, also reviewed legislative lists and
recommended that provinces be given full autonomy as envisaged in the
Constitution.

Committee meeting was held at Islamabad, Chaired by Chaudhry Shujaat
Hussain, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) president, which reviewed
progress of its two sub-committees. The meeting resolved to complete its
report within the next few weeks.

Sources said the sub-committee on constitutional issues reviewed
federal and concurrent lists and proposed that provinces be empowered to deal
with all the provincial subjects. They said the committee could also
propose to form a task force, which would ensure the implementation of
its recommendations within six months.

Chairman, Parliamentary Committee, Senator, Mushahid Hussain, who is
also the PML secretary general, said before presenting the report to the
Parliament that the committee would hold meeting with President General
Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to take them into
confidence about its recommendations.

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