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Sindh resolves to take up water shortage issue with centre




  • Sindh Assembly on Tuesday resolved to take up the matter of the shortage of irrigation water in the province with the federal government, besides urging it to close down a key canal to ensure proper water flow towards the province. A number of PPP lawmakers in the Sindh Assembly on Tuesday complained of water shortages at tail ends of irrigation channels and urged the provincial government to ensure adequate water supply in canals. 

    Allah Bux Talpur of PPP complained of an acute shortage of irrigation water at the tail-end of agriculture lands in Badin district. Similarly, Nusrat Sehar Abbasi of PML-F stirred up treasury members, when she asked the PPP provincial government to ensure adequate water flows in irrigation channels. 

    The first session of the Sindh Assembly was mostly marred by chaos and deputy speaker Shehla Raza apparently acted in a partial manner during the assembly proceedings. Allah Bux’s complaint prompted Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah to blame the Punjab government for holding back his province’s share of water. He said that this was the main reason why farmers were facing difficulties in irrigation matters. 

    He said that his government had lodged a protest with the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) over fluctuations in the flow of irrigation water towards Sindh. He said the government had asked Irsa to shut down the Chashma-Jhelum Canal to ensure adequate water flows, sufficient for Sindh’s irrigation needs. He assured his colleagues on the treasury benches that the flow of water in irrigation channels would be restored, ensuring proper supply of water at tail-ends of irrigation channels everywhere in the province within a week. 

    Jam Khan Shoro of the PPP tabled a resolution in protest against the shortage of irrigation water in the province, urging the PPP government in Sindh to approach the federal government of PML-N to solve this crisis. During the ensuing debate, the opposition lawmakers supported the move and called for restoring the flow of irrigation water in Sindh, besides urging it to maintain waterways in a proper manner. 

    Nusrat Sehar Abbasi of PML-F asked the provincial government to eliminate all illegal water courses in the province to increase the flow of water in waterways. She wondered why there was a shortage of water in Sindh when President Asif Ali Zardari also belongs to the province. 

    Her words led to a commotion after members of treasury benches rose up in unison and shouted against her. It took a while for the deputy speaker to bring the session in order. She ruled that lawmakers should not deviate from speaking on the resolution. Another of PML-F lawmaker, Mehtab Akbar Rashdi, urged the government to bridge the trust deficit between Punjab and Sindh that had emerged in the wake of the water shortage in all rivers. 

    She said that illegal water courses were among a score of other reasons behind the decrease in water flow. Earlier, PTI’s Hafizuddin moved an adjournment motion in the house against the Senate’s decision to scrap an agreement between Wapda and KESC for the supply of 650 megawatts of electricity to Karachi. He said that the move would plunge the city further into power crisis. 

    However, Sindh’s Law Minister Sikandar Mandhro opposed the motion, saying it lacked eligibility. However, MQM supported the motion. Faisal Sabzwari of MQM feared that the cut in the power supply would reduce the city’s capacity to generate revenue. He said that the city generated as much as 70 percent of the total national revenue, which required an improved power supply. 

    After further deliberations, the house concluded that there was a need to move a unanimous resolution on the issue, expressing the province’s fears. Syed Qaim Ali Shah said the issue of electricity cut proposed by the Senate was beyond its jurisdiction. He said the decision was against the Constitution and suggested that matter should be discussed in the Council of Common Interest. 

    Senior Minister Nisar Khuhro suggested that the resolution should be drafted well and urged the PTI lawmaker to drop the adjournment motion. PML-F’s Imtiaz Shaikh and PPP’s Jam Mehtab Dahar agreed with the suggestion and said that it should express the resolve of all political parties to raise the city’s power issue with the federal government. 

    Hafizuddin later withdrew his adjournment motion. The house latter unanimously adopted a resolution which Shoro tabled to ask the provincial government to approach the federal government to solve the issue of the shortage of irrigation water, besides calling for shutting down the Chashma-Jhelum Canal to increase the flow of water toward Sindh. Another resolution was moved about making DNA tests mandatory in rape cases to help ascertain facts. 

    The resolution stated that the expense of the test should be borne by the Sindh government should bear. The resolution also received a unanimous vote in the house. Earlier, former Chief Minister Ghulam Arbab Rahim was administered oath as a provincial lawmaker by Shehla Raza. Dost Muhammad Rahimon, Makhdoom Kahlil Uzaman and Mir Abid Sundrani were also administered oaths. The chair also announced Faisal Sabzwari as leader of the opposition in the house. The deputy speaker also announced the assent of the Sindh Governor to 25 bills which the assembly had passed during the tenure of the past government. 

    Copyright Business Recorder, 2013

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