Writer and Photographer: Aun Ali Jafri
We did get electricity supply by the [Quaid-i-Azam] Solar Power Park but not free. We’re paying a price for it in the form of increase in the region’s temperatures. Why shouldn’t the temperatures go up when all and sundry are installing the solar panels. These plates [solar panels] attract sun beams. There would have been no problem had installation of these power-generating plates remained confined to the park. When every Tom, Dick and Harry began installing them on their respective homes or fields [mostly for pumping out subsoil water to meet domestic needs or irrigation purposes], the temperature problem started.
One of my sons told me that this heat problem will soon begin damaging our crops. It’s very scary. We are already very poor, and our lands don’t produce much yields to meet our needs. Two of my sons have already shifted to the town to earn bread for the family and fulfil our cash requirements. We need cash to marry off my three daughters. If the government cannot arrange jobs for the villagers then it should at least stop the affluent from installing the plates so that these do not produce heat, which may damage our lands and crops.
Why is the government not providing jobs to the unemployed people at the park.? Don’t we have the first right to employment there as the neighbors? Why are they hiring people from far off places and not giving a chance to the locals? Is it justice to ignore the locals and give jobs to people from other areas? We, and our crops, are to pay the price for the energy production. Can’t you take my message to the rulers? They should do justice for us and provide jobs, at the plant, to our male family members, who have no other source of livelihood. We’re hard working people and can deliver more than what is done by the people from far-off areas. We are accustomed to the harsh seasons of Cholistan and don’t get tired quickly like those from outside the region.
The new pukka [carpeted] road does provide connectivity, making traveling easier than ever. It cannot be an alternative to jobs. You need cash to pay for the traveling costs. How do you generate funds for meeting these costs? Our small pieces of land can only sustain our lives. Their yields are not enough to be sold in the market for cash. Lands don’t let their owners die of hunger. To meet other needs you must do some extra work to generate money. There are no opportunities to do this extra work here, other than doing jobs at the solar plant or in nearby towns. My two sons are doing this. Away from my eyes, they’re working hard in Bahawalpur to earn something for the family.
I hear that Chinese are good people. I’ve never met or seen any of them in my village or elsewhere. They say security men would keep them away from the locals. I hope one day I may get a chance to meet and ask them if they could help out in finding jobs for the local people. Don’t they need a cook for making loaves (a kind of bread)? I make excellent round loaves. They would love to eat it.