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January 8, 2019

Allotment of 70,000 acres of forest land cancelled


January 8, 2019

The Sindh cabinet on Monday cancelled illegal allotment of 70,000 acres of forest land in the province and approved vacation of another 145,245 acres of forest land illegally occupied by influential people.

The cabinet meeting was held with Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in chair at the New Sindh Secretariat. Provincial ministers, advisers, special assistants and secretaries attended the meeting.

The CM directed the forest department to seek help from the police and Rangers to get the illegally occupied 145,245 acres of forest land vacated. Regarding the illegally allotted 70,000 acres of forest land, the CM maintained that all such allotments were to be cancelled. He directed the revenue and forest departments to issue cancellation orders in this regard.

Sindh Forest Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah informed the CM that 13,000 acres of forest land had been retrieved from illegal occupants and action was being taken for the retrieval of the remaining occupied land.

Coalfield-affected people

The issue of people affected by the coal project in Thar was also discussed in the meeting. Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh told the cabinet that 757 families living within one-kilometre radius of Gorano Dam and Dukkur Chho pond should be considered as affected people apart from the 471 families which had been displaced due to the Thar Coalfield Block-II.

The cabinet approved to donate Rs900 million to the Thar Foundation so that it could disburse Rs100,000 annually to each of the affected families of Gorano and Dukkur Chho for the next 30 years. It was also decided to pay Rs100,000 each to the 471 affected families of Thar Coalfield Block-II.

Law for the injured

The cabinet also approved the Sindh Injured Persons Compulsory Treatment Bill. A four-member committee, comprising Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho, Law Adviser Barrister Murtaza Wahab, and the health and law secretaries had been tasked with finalising the bill so that it could be tabled before the Sindh Assembly. According to the proposed law, it would be mandatory for all the hospitals to provide treatment to injured persons brought to them.

Sugar cane price

Agriculture Minister Ismail Rahu informed the cabinet that growers were demanding an increase in the purchase price of sugar cane as it had been stagnant since the last three years at Rs182 per 40 kilogrammes.

He, however, added that the Punjab government had fixed sugar cane price at Rs180 and recommended that the price be not lowered below Rs182 per maund. The cabinet approved fixation of minimum sugar cane price at Rs182 per 40 kg.

Qingqi fare

The transport minister apprised the cabinet that there was no minimum or maximum limit for Qingqi and motorcycle rickshaw fares. He proposed two fare slabs, according to which Rs10 should be the fare per passenger for a distance between zero and six kilometers (km) and Rs15 for above 6km. The cabinet approved the proposed fare slabs.

The CM directed the transport department to ensure proper safety precautions in the said rickshaws and also have them registered.

Allotment of govt residence

General Administration Secretary Zulfiqar Shah briefed the cabinet on the present status of the allotments of government residences.

The cabinet approved one-time relaxation for the present allottees who had been provided the accommodation for higher posts. Till their retirement, such allottees would be entitled to stay in their houses; however, no allotment against the policy would be made onward.

The CM directed the chief secretary to carry out an inspection of every government flat to check if any outsider was living there. “This is unacceptable and I would not allow misuse of government residences,” Murad said.

Recruitment approved

The service and general administration department presented an item to seek permission for starting recruitment against the posts of grade BSP-1 to BSP-15.

The CM said every recruitment should be made purely on merit. He added that for lower grades, only local people would be recruited; however, the five per cent quota for people with disabilities and the same quota for minorities would be ensured.

The cabinet constituted a committee, comprising the energy minister, law adviser, and services and law secretaries, to frame rules for recruitment and approved the starting of recruitment process.

Local Government Act

Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani presented an amendment in the local government law to change the procedure for the removal of mayors.

Ghani cited Section 27 of the Sindh Local Government Act 2013 which reads “A mayor, deputy mayor, chairman or vice chairman shall be removed from office if a vote of no confidence is passed against him or her in the prescribed manner by two third majority of the total number of the members of the council”.

He maintained that this was against the Constitution as a simple majority was enough to remove prime ministers, speakers and other high posts. The cabinet agreed to the minister to change ‘two-third majority’ in the law to ‘simple majority’.

The cabinet also authorised the local government minister to appoint remaining members of development authorities like the Defence Housing Authority and others. The cabinet also approved creation of a separate department in place of the Sindh Board of Investment. It also approved the appointment of Basit Soomro as the Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority chairperson.

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