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May 28, 2021

Irrigation water being stolen within Sindh, Fehmida tells NA

ISLAMABAD: As the parliamentarians from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the National Assembly protested shortage of water in lower Sindh, Dr Fehmida Mirza disclosed on the floor of the House that irrigation water was being stolen within the province.

Reacting to a point of order raised by PPP Member Syed Naveed Qamar on the issue, Fehmida observed that it was a fact that there was a shortage of water in Sindh, but it should also be checked as to who was stealing water from the Kotri Barrage and the Sukkur Barrage. “If there is a shortage of water, it should be equal at the two barrages,” she said. She pointed out that the Sindh Irrigation minister provided illegal water connections between the two barrages to allow stealing of water prior to by-elections in a constituency of the Badin district, earlier this month. “This is just one example as to how elections are won in the province,” she said.

She alleged that illegal water connections were provided on May 19, a day before the by-elections on a Sindh Assembly constituency in Badin on May 20. She said PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who visited Badin, promised people that action would be taken against the minister. “I also ask PPP leaders present in the House to give a commitment on the issue,” she said.

The ex-speaker said she and her family members were facing life threats due to activities of a criminal who wanted to occupy her lands. She pointed out that a criminal namely Basharat Zardari wanted to occupy her agricultural land as he did in the past.

“The criminal accompanied by his accomplices arrive at her land and fires in the air with latest automatic weapons which are not possessed by the police,” she said. Fehmida Mirza, who hails from the Grand Democratic Alliance, opposed opening of the Panjnad Link Canal.

Earlier, raising the issue in the House, PPP Member Syed Naveed Qamar said various areas in lower Sindh including Badin, Thatta, Tando Mohammad Khan and Mirpur Khas were facing severe water shortage while the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) was not doing justice to resolve the issue. He said the Panjnad Link Canal had been opened whereas it was mentioned in the water accord that any water shortage would be equally shared by all the provinces and a single province would not suffer. He regretted that the water accord was being ignored as a result of which the Kharif crops, especially the rice crop, would suffer badly.

Another PPP Member, Shazia Marri, got infuriated over remarks of Dr Fehmida Mirza, asking her not to discuss personal issues and families disputes in the House. “She should not blame others for getting 600 votes in by-elections,” Marri said. She objected to remarks of Fehmida Mirza for mentioning Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and the Sindh Irrigation minister in the House.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly was informed that the government had decided to import wheat and sugar to avoid shortage and price hike. Responding to a question during the Question Hour, Parliamentary Secretary for Finance Zain Hussain Qureshi said four million metric tons of wheat and sufficient quantity of sugar would be imported to maintain strategic reserves of the commodities.

Answering another question, Parliamentary Secretary for Commerce Aliya Hamza Malik said Pakistan’s exports were increasing by 13.4 per cent and had reached 21 billion dollars during the first 10 months of the current fiscal year, which is unprecedented in the history of Pakistan. She hoped that the exports will touch the mark of 25 billion dollars in the coming days. Regarding price hike in the country, she said rising inflation had been observed across the world because of supply and demand disruption due to the COVID pandemic. She said Iran recorded inflation at 49.5 per cent and Turkey 17.1 per cent, while Pakistan witnessed price hike of just 8.6 per cent during this fiscal year.

Replying to a question, Parliamentary Secretary for Planning, Development and Reform Kanwal Shauzab said investments under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor were expected to be around 50.7 billion dollars. She said this huge inflow of investment will generate massive economic activities as well as employment opportunities. She said apart from focusing on energy, infrastructure and Gwadar projects, nine Special Economic Zones will be established under the CPEC. She said the ML-1 project to upgrade and dualize the rail track from Peshawar to Karachi has the potential to create 174,000 direct jobs.