New infrastructure driving socioeconomic revolution in Tharparkar: analysts

By Fatima Javed | Gwadar Pro Dec 24, 2022

THARPARKAR, Dec. 24 (Gwadar Pro)-New infrastructure under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is driving a socioeconomic revolution in Tharparkar, Sindh.

Thar, one of the least developed regions of Pakistan, is seeing unprecedented development in energy and infrastructure projects, says a Silicon Valley-based Pakistani-American analyst Riaz Haq.

The region of Tharparkar has a population of 1.6 million, 96% of which reside outside of urban areas. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP)'s Multidimensional Poverty Index for Pakistan reports that 87% of the population in Tharparkar lives in poverty. Thari people face various issues due to waterborne diseases, inadequate health facilities, famine, and lack of basic infrastructure.

In his tweet, Haq says, “New roads and infrastructure are being built along with power plants as part of CPEC. There are construction workers and machinery visible everywhere in the desert.”

Road construction is opening up opportunities for employment, entrepreneurship, education and especially healthcare for people living in the least developed regions of Pakistan especially Tharparkar, as Pakistani architect and social activist Arif Hasan has detailed in his book titled Tharparkar: Drought, Development, and Social Change, roads have brought about a change in lifestyles and supported people in fulfilling their aspirations and needs.

With the building of the road network, trade and commerce have increased substantially. Access to healthcare units, especially to the Civil Hospital in Mithi, has become a lot easier and faster and has been of special importance in maternity-related cases.

The roads have also impacted the agricultural sector. Most Thari people feed themselves on farming. 94% of the district's households own livestock, while 77.64% of the population is actively engaged in livestock management.

Animals can now be stall-fed with fodder from the barrage areas because of cheaper means of transport. In addition, tourism has expanded in Thar and tens of thousands of people visit the area every year after the rains and for the many religious festivals that the desert celebrates.

Analysts believe that along with the development of infrastructure and energy projects, the policymakers and investors should focus on the welfare of the local community and how they can be involved.

For example, only 47% of the population in Tharparkar has access to drinking water, therefore policies should be made to provide clean drinking water enough for the local population. Only 39% of Thari households use electricity as their main lighting supply, the lowest percentage of any district in Sindh. Therefore, the generation of electricity should be invested in Tharparkar, and maintenance and operation of the basic facilities should be provided to the district.

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