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PA lambasts IRSA for denying Sindh its water

February 28, 2018

The Sindh Assembly on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution condemning the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) for “illegally opening” two canals in Punjab despite protest from Sindh, depriving the province of its due share of water.

MPA Nand Kumar Goklani of the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional moved the private resolution in the assembly, and MPAs from both treasury and opposition benches supported it.

“Despite Sindh’s protest and severe crises in the province, Indus River System Authority has illegally opened Chashma-Jehlum Link Canal and Taunsa-Panjnad Canal violating the inter-provincial agreement, depriving Sindh of its rightful water share,” the resolution stated. “This house condemns the attitude of IRSA and demands the concerned authorities in the federal government to take serious notice of it and suspend the water diversion until Sindh gives its consent.”

Speaking on the resolution, Nand Kumar, an opposition MPA, speaking said that Sindh had been facing a severe water shortage and the provincial government should raise this issue with the Centre.

He said that agricultural land in Sindh, especially in the southern areas, had been virtually transformed into barren land because of shortage of irrigation water, but nobody was willing to raise this issue. He called for a united voice to bring this issue to the federal government’s notice.

Minister for Works and Services Imdad Ali Pitafi said the provincial government would not stay quiet and the chief minister has always raised such issues in the Council of Common Interests. “For God’s sake, please don’t turn Sindh into a barren land,” Pitafi said.

Other resolutions

The house also unanimously passed a resolution against a proposed plan of federal government to privatise Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) and Pakistan International Airlines.

Ministers Nisar Ahmed Khuhro and Dr Sikandar Mandhro jointly signed the resolution, which stated, “We reject the proposed steps to privatise or give on lease Pakistan Steel and PIA. The ineligible Nawaz government should refrain from acting on its wish to sell the national assets at any cost.”

It added that proposed privatisation of the only steel producing industry of the country and the national flag carrier is meant to benefit a few certain families and the move would be steadfastly resisted.

The resolution demanded the government to pay salaries of employees of Pakistan Steel Mills due for the last five months as well as dues of 4,000 retired employees. It also cautioned that PSM should refrain from selling its land to certain investors at throwaway prices.

The Sindh government allotted this land to Steel Mills for industrial production only, it is not meant for commercial use. “The process of transferring this land to any proposed national industrial park or special economic zone should be stopped forthwith,” the resolution added.

Speaking on the resolution, Minister Nisar Khuhro said the government should aslo make arrangements to resume operations of Steel Mills when billions of rupees were being spent under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

The house also passed a private resolution moved by opposition lawmaker of PML-F Saeed Khan Nizamani, calling upon the Sindh government to establish a unit of National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases at Civil Hospital Sanghar.

A resolution moved by PPP’s Saira Shahliani to pay tribute to veteran lawyer and human rights activist Asma Jahangir, who died recently, was also passed.

A resolution moved by Nusrat Seher Abbasi of PML-F to upgrade the posts of junior staff of the education department from grade one to grade seven to redress their grievances was also passed unanimously.

Meanwhile, the Sindh Regulation of Marriage Functions’ Bill-2018, meant to impose a law to serve just one dish in wedding functions, was introduced in the house by MPA Saira Shahliani. It was referred to the relevant standing committee for further consideration.

The house was informed that the federal government is yet to fully devolve to Sindh all the affairs and operations of the Livestock and Fisheries Department in light of the 18th Constitutional Amendment.

Responding to queries from lawmakers during the question and answer session, Minister for Fisheries Muhammad Ali Malkani said the federal government had earlier issued the due notifications for handing over to Sindh all authorities, offices and affairs related to Fisheries and Livestock Department in the province, but later these notifications were suspended. He said the Sindh government raised the issue at the meetings of Inter-provincial Coordination Committee and the federal government had claimed that certain lawful procedures had been hindering the required process of devolution. The centre is yet to remove these lawful impediments, he added.