Sindh’s chief minister on Thursday released Rs580 million from the provincial exchequer to provide rations to daily-wagers and other needy people amid the province-wide lockdown due to the COVID-19 emergency.
Syed Murad Ali Shah decided to provide Rs20 million to each of the 29 districts of the province to distribute rations among the poor, particularly those who earn their wages on a daily basis.
He also decided that daily-wagers and other underprivileged people will be provided with financial assistance so that they could afford square meals and unavoidable minor expenditures. The CM constituted a committee headed by Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh to devise a mechanism for distributing rations and providing cash to daily-wagers. The committee is scheduled to finalise its recommendations by Friday (today) evening.
Different welfare organisations across Sindh are already working with the provincial government to provide rations to the needy people in different parts of the province.
‘Stay at home’
In a separate media statement issued on Thursday, the information and local government minister once again requested the people to cooperate with the Sindh government in these troubled times and follow its lockdown instructions strictly.
Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said that by staying at their homes, the people would not only be able to protect their families but others around them as well. He said that even in this difficult situation, the provincial government was working day and night to reduce the problems being faced by the people.
He urged the people stepping out of their houses due to emergencies and other unavoidable circumstances to fully cooperate with the security officials on the roads, keeping in mind that they were carrying out their duties by risking their lives.
He reiterated his appeal to the people, saying that without their cooperation, this battle against the coronavirus cannot be won. The more the people cooperate, the sooner we will get rid of this pandemic, he added.
On supporting the people affected the most by the lockdown, the minister said that Rs20 million will be provided to every district of the province. Through this amount, the respective administrations of each of the districts can distribute rations among daily-wagers and other needy people in their jurisdictions on time, he added.
Release of prisoners
In view of the COVID-19 emergency, Sindh’s chief minister has tasked the home department with compiling a list of all the prisoners in the province so they can be provided relief according to the severity of their respective crimes and their health and financial status.
Syed Murad Ali Shah took the decision on Thursday at the CM House, where he presided over a meeting of the home department that was attended by Chief Secretary Mumtaz Ali Shah, Additional Chief Secretary Home Usman Chachar, Principal Secretary to CM Sajid Jamal Abro and IG Prisons Nusrat Mangan.
The chief executive said the list he has shows that 16,000 people are jailed across the province. “I want you to prepare a list of all the prisoners and divide them into different categories,” he said, adding that there should be different categories for under-trial and convicted inmates.
Shah said that in the under-trial prisoners’ list there should be different categories for inmates charged with heinous crimes and those charged with minor offences. He added that a separate list of the prisoners who are old and those who are sick should be compiled so that their cases can be considered accordingly.
He asked the home department to compile a separate list of the inmates who have completed their respective jail terms but have no money to pay the fine or penalty imposed on them. There should be a separate list of the prisoners who have been granted bail by the court but have no money or property to file their respective surety amounts, he said. “The provincial government will pay their fines and make arrangements for their sureties.”
The CM asked the home department to compile separate lists of women, children and foreigners in jails so that they may also be provided some relief keeping in view the severity of their respective crimes. He said the jails in the province are crammed full of people, so he is trying to release the inmates who can be provided relief within the ambit of the law.
SHC CJ’s order
The chief justice of the Sindh High Court, Justice Ahmed Ali M Sheikh, ordered the release of as many as 829 under-trial prisoners involved in cases of lesser punishment offences in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The under-trial prisoners were incarcerated in different prisons of the province.
As many as 205 people were arrested and 56 more cases registered by the Karachi police allegedly violating Section 144 on the fourth day of the lockdown on Thursday, bringing the number people detained so far to 937.
Section 144 has been imposed against the gathering of four or more people across Sindh. Since the province-wide lockdown to combat the novel coronavirus was imposed at midnight at the start of Monday, police officials started patrolling roads and streets of the city to ensure that no one stepped out of their home without a justifiable reason.
Karachi wore a deserted look on the fourth day of the lockdown as a virtual curfew was imposed during the night from 8pm to 8am, with patrolling and snap-checking by military and paramilitary soldiers as well as by police on the roads and streets of Karachi.
The police and other security forces have also placed barricades on various arteries of the city to discourage unnecessary movement of citizens, especially after the Sindh government decided to intensify the lockdown in Karachi amid fears of the coronavirus spread and to ensure effective implementation of the lockdown from 8am to 8pm in which all shops and businesses in Karachi are to remain closed. However, medical stores and hospitals have been exempted.
Directives to DCs
The deputy commissioners (DCs) of all six districts of Karachi have been tasked by Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani to make sure that the customers at banks, supermarkets and medical stores were observing at least one-metre distance with each other.
An administrative order in this regard by Deputy Commissioner Malir Shehzad Fazal Abbasi said that all banks and other essential service providers were directed to maintain one-meter distance among customers.
The service providers have also been instructed to do the marking on the ground to make it understandable for the customers. The people waiting for their turn in queues at shops have also been told to follow the signs marked on the ground.
In a press statement, the city commissioner asked the citizens to keep one-meter distance while buying essential items. He said special measures were needed to be taken for the implementation of this order and should be made sure that citizens did not gather at one point.
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