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October 1, 2019

Murad gives go-ahead to turn Nehr-e-Khayyam into picnic spot

Karachi

October 1, 2019

Through his cabinet, Sindh’s chief minister on Monday approved the signing of an agreement with a private party to upgrade and beautify Nehr-e-Khayyam in Karachi’s Clifton neighbourhood to turn it into a recreational spot.

CM Syed Murad Ali Shah said the channel will be a gift to the people of Karachi so they can have picnics with their families, sailing in beautiful boats and reading books and trying different flavours of coffee on its bank.

Shah presided over a meeting of the provincial cabinet at the New Sindh Secretariat. Among others, it was attended by Chief Secretary Mumtaz Ali Shah and all the ministers, advisers and relevant officers, including Sindh police chief Dr Kaleem Imam, Advocate General Salman Talibuddin and the prosecutor general.

Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah presented an agenda item pertaining to an agreement to be signed between the Sindh government and a private party, PANI, for the improvement of Nehr-e-Khayyam. PANI, representing a group of NGOs led by architect Shahid Abdullah, sought the cabinet’s approval for their plan.

Nehr-e-Khayyam runs from Gizri, crossing besides the Ocean Mall, up to the sea. Long ago, it was used to drain the storm water into the sea. The water in the channel travels both ways: from ground to sea during low tide and from sea to ground during high tide.

The cabinet was informed that for the past few years, sewage is being discharged into Nehr-e-Khayyam to take it to the sea, and the practice of dumping solid waste along its banks has become a bother, while the area has also attracted land grabbers and encroachers.

The advisory board was also told that according to a draft agreement, PANI will develop a recreational spot on the area with Nehr-e-Khayyam on the north and the service lane on the south from Khayaban-e-Saadi to Khayaban-e-Iqbal and adopt the land for 30 years.

The draft states that to segregate and ensure the smooth flow of sewage currently being conveyed through Nehr-e-Khayyam, the Sindh government will construct a separate conduit in the portion proposed for the development of a park for the passage of sewage through reed beds.

Under the proposal, the park will not be used for any political activity and its title will remain with the government, while it will not be used for any commercial activity either, except for tuck shops, and no structure will be allowed to be built over 15 feet.

The CM said the project has already been delayed, so the cabinet should approve it in the larger interest of the city. He allowed the LG department to sign the agreement and start the development works.

Plastic bags

CM’s environment adviser Barrister Murtaza Wahab told the chief executive that a complete ban on the manufacture, sale, purchase and use of non-biodegradable plastic bags of all sizes has been imposed with effect from October 1.

Wahab said that only oxo-biodegradable plastic bags of different prescribed sizes and thicknesses will be manufactured, sold and used in the province.

The CM directed him to meet with the manufacturers and sellers and take them into confidence for enforcing the ban.

KWSB tariff

The cabinet directed the Karachi Water & Sewerage Board (KWSB) to implement the charges of water and sewerage services as approved by the government in 2016. The water board has decided to increase its tariff by nine per cent for consumers of all categories.

Arms licence fee

On the request of the home department, the cabinet approved increasing the fee of gratis arms licence (non-prohibited bore) from Rs1,000 to Rs2,000 to meet the expenses of scanning, lamination, printing, electricity, stationery and software development consumed to issue the computerised licences.

New police law

The home department informed the cabinet that after the revival of the Police Order 2002, certain new actions are to be taken, such as framing rules, issuing regulations and executive orders, carrying day-to-day activities related to field operations, etc, in compliance with the new police law.

The advisory board was told that there may be certain provisions in the new police act on which the office of the police chief and the home department or any other stakeholder might differ as regards their application, implementation or interpretation.

The CM constituted a committee headed by the law adviser, with the advocate general, the prosecutor general, the home secretary, the finance secretary, the implementation & coordination secretary and the police chief as members, to remove all hurdles.

Water agreement

Energy Minister Imtiaz Ahmed Shaikh told the cabinet that the private power companies working in Thar need water for their projects, saying that the water will be supplied through the Left Bank Outfall Drain, but its treatment is currently under way.

The advisory board discussed the matter and approved the temporary supply of water to Block-II of the Thar Coalfield. The cabinet directed the energy department to sign water usage agreements with the prospective project developers in Thar.

Sindh Bank

Imran Samad, the new chief of the Sindh Bank, delivered a presentation to the cabinet about the new business plan under which 20 more branches will be opened. The cabinet approved the bank’s business viability plan for 2019-22. The plan includes strengthening the bank’s governance, risk and control framework, including massive revamping of key management positions, with the hiring of competent resources. The cabinet was told that the bank’s balance sheet, including its capital adequacy, recovery and remedial measures, will be strengthened and improved.

The CM said the cabinet had approved Rs14.7 billion capital plan, of which Rs6.7 billion had already been injected into the bank, while the remaining amount will also be released to meet the requirements of the regulator (the State Bank).

Infrastructure cess

Excise & Taxation Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla presented the draft rules of the Sindh Development & Maintenance of Infrastructure Cess, which define assessment & collection, declaration of assessment & collection, payment of cess, penalty, release of goods and exemption. The cabinet approved the rules.

The advisory board also approved an amendment in the Sindh Higher Education Commission Act 2013 by replacing “secretary” with “executive director” in different sections. The draft bill for setting up Sindh Rescue Services 1122 was also discussed in the meeting.

The cabinet constituted a committee comprising the health minister, the law adviser and the advocate general to revisit the draft law and make it a regulator organisation.

The advisory group authorised the LG minister and law adviser Wahab to talk to the teachers who have qualified the aptitude test to address their grievances within the ambit of law.

The CM also directed the LG minister to devise a plan to resolve the issue of the boycott of the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital’s outpatient department and the Karachi Medical & Dental College’s classes.

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