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Saturday July 13, 2024

ECP allows Sindh govt to build flood-hit houses

By Mumtaz Alvi
September 20, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has given a green signal to Sindh to continue with the projects of building 2.1 million houses, which were destroyed by floods and installing solar panels at them.

The ECP informed the Sindh government that there was no ban on the ongoing World Bank, ADB, USAID, and multilateral banks-assisted projects as well as ECNEC-approved Sindh Solar Energy Project, Sindh Flood Emergency Housing Reconstruction Project.

The electoral body has conveyed this to the government of Sindh through a letter, which says: “There is no ban on the World Bank-assisted projects that are ongoing and are under execution in various stages. There is no ban on other World Bank-assisted projects at any stage of execution. There is no ban on the Sindh Solar Energy Project which was approved on November 14, 2018 by the ECNEC. There is no ban on the Sindh Flood Emergency Housing Reconstruction Project which was approved by the ECNEC in January 2023 and under these projects, multiple activities are currently being carried out in phases. There is no ban on other foreign-funded projects like World Bank, USAID or any other development partners’ project including Multilateral Banks, ADB etc. which are duly approved by the competent forum.

“It is expected that after this clarification there remains no ambiguity as far as the execution of the development projects is concerned. However, in case of any question, the Sindh government may approach the Election Commission of Pakistan any time,” the letter duly signed by Secretary ECP Omar Hamid Khan said.

A few days ago, terming the ECP’s decision to freeze all development funds including that of the Peoples Housing Scheme in Sindh as illegal, unconstitutional and anti-people, PPP had asked the ECP to immediately unfreeze the funds. “Orders of the Election Commission of Pakistan to freeze development funds in the province of Sindh, including those allocated in the provincial budget for providing flood-resistant houses to families devastated in last year’s floods and for solar panels to provide relief to the poorest of the families from hours of loadshedding and exorbitant electricity bills are shocking to say the least,” in-charge PPP election cell Senator Taj Haider had said in a letter written to Chief Election Commi­ssioner Sikandar Sultan Raja.

He contended that during the discussions on amending Section 230 of the Elections Act 2017 by the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms, the committee members had unanimously agreed that caretaker governments should not have the authority to obstruct or modify policies or stop ongoing development projects.

Haider noted that he had voiced serious concerns during this discussion that the caretaker administrations might potentially impede the progress of the two initiatives. “Little did I suspect that while we were stopping the caretakers, it would be the honourable ECP itself who would take this illegal, unconstitutional and anti-people step,” he wrote.