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July 14, 2020

Lawmakers complain KP rights being compromised

Peshawar

July 14, 2020

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Monday witnessed a heated debate as the members complained that the province was being deprived of its constitutional rights.

Initiating debate on his adjournment motion, Ahmad Kundi of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) said as per the 1991 water accord, the provinces were authorized to use their share as per a set formula. He said three million cusec water of KP costing Rs6 billion per annum was being utilized by other provinces for the last 30 years, which meant the province was deprived of Rs180 billion. The legislator said the Chashma Right Bank Canal would irrigate three lakh acres of land on completion, but the project has been put on the backburner since 2002.He asked the provincial government to prepare its case of Rs180 billion on account of water use charges for presenting in the Council of Common Interests (CCI).

The province is generating cheapest hydel power, but the Wapda House was established in Lahore, KP was producing 50 percent of the country’s crude oil but there was no refinery in the province and the government was compromising on the rights of the province, he went on to say. Inayatullah Khan of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) also supported the point of view of Kundi and said due to lack of infrastructure development the province was deprived of utilizing its water. If executed, the Chashma Right Bank Canal would irrigate three hundred thousand acres of land and make the province self-sufficient in food. The matter should be raised in the CCI, he added.

Mian Nisar Gul of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) said had this vital project executed we would not be dependent on Punjab for the provision of flour and wheat. The lawmaker said it was a project of importance for the entire province. He warned the people of southern districts might raise voice for a separate province if they remained deprived for long. Sardar Babak of Awami National Party (ANP) said the Chashma Right Bank Canal would be a game-changer for the province. He said due to delay the project cost has been increased to about Rs190 billion.

He suggested constitution of parliamentary committee to raise the issue of provincial rights including water charges, net hydel profit, tobacco cess with the centre. Maulana Lutfur Rahman of JUI-F said the point raised by Kundi was not only of importance for the province but also for the country. He said KP was rich in water and mineral resources, but it was still deprived of its rights.

Mir Kalam Khan and Naeema Kishwar also spoke in the House. Law Minister Sultan Muhammad Khan in his reply said there should be no differences over the rights of the province. Though from 1947 to 1991, there were no laws for water use and 1991 was the first accord for use of Indus River Water and Indus River Authority (IRSA) established in 1992 for implementation. The KP’s share in its water is eight percent, he said, adding the provincial government has calculated the amount and written to the CCI. We could not utilize 34 per cent of our share, he said, adding the chief minister has raised the issue of the Chashma Right Bank Canal and it would be pursued. There would be no compromise on the provincial rights, he added. He also assured the House of pondering upon the constitution of a parliamentary committee or jirga.

Earlier, on a point of order, Nighat Orakzai raised the murder of a 12-year old bride, who died under mysterious circumstances in Samar Bagh in Lower Dir. She said the girl died due to violence. She said some time back a 13-year old girl was raped in Charsadda, but police were yet to arrest the culprits.

Maleeha Asghar Khan said that domestic violence had increased in the province, but the government could not pass the domestic violence bill. Sumera Shams sought an investigation into the Lower Dir incident to punish those found guilty. Women members also registered their protest over the incident.

Minister for Social Welfare Hasham Inamullah Khan said according to initial report the husband of the girl subjected her to violence and she died at her parents’ home. However, he said that the actual situation would become clear after the forensic report. He said the police authorities had been directed to expedite the investigations. The minister said many amendments had been suggested to the Child Protection Bill and it was being reviewed and the final draft would be finalised within a month. Inayatullah Khan said the Dir incident deserved condemnation and the accused should be awarded exemplary punishment. However, he said, the case should not be confused with domestic violence bill that was sent to the Council of Islamic Ideology, which returned it with some suggestions, but the legislation was still pending. Law Minister Sultan Muhammad Khan said the FIRs should be submitted in the assembly to know the actual situation. The Child Marriage Restraint Bill has been sent to the Social Welfare Department and would be taken in the next cabinet meeting while the select committee meeting be convened at the earliest to discuss the domestic violence bill draft, he added.

Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani directed the police to present the reports in the House on Tuesday (today). The House also passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Control of Narcotics Substances (second amendment) Bill, 2020 unanimously.

A resolution by law minister asking the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) to regularise the subject of Ruet-e-Hilal Committee was also passed unanimously. The session was adjourned to meet today (Tuesday) at 3 pm.