KARACHI, Feb 14: The Sindh Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed the Sindh Protection of Breastfeeding and Child Nutrition Act-2013 making propagation of any material or assertion in any manner by a manufacturer or a distributor that encourages bottle-feeding or discourages breastfeeding punishable with imprisonment up to two years and a fine ranging from Rs50,000 to Rs500,000.

The bill (No 1 of 2013) on the subject, which was passed into law, also prohibits assertion in any manner that any designated product is a substitute for mother’s milk or equivalent or superior to mother’s milk by any person or presentation of a gift or any other benefit to a health worker or medical practitioner liable to the same penalties.

The law also makes it obligatory on manufacturers of a designated product to publish on its container a conspicuous notice in bold characters that “Mother’s milk is best for your baby and helps in preventing diarrhoea and other illness.”

After the bill was passed, chairman of the standing committee on health Aamir Moin Pirzada thanked all lawmakers for adopting the bill that will not only help maintain social values but also ensure provision of natural and healthy food to infants.

Legislator Arif Mustafa Jatoi termed it a good law that deserved appreciation. Law Minister Ayaz Soomro praised the standing committee on health for putting in hard work. He assured the house that next week reports of the committees on home affairs and revenue would be laid before the house.

On the motions of Law Minister Ayaz Soomro, the house allowed the withdrawal of The Education City Bill, 2012 (bill No 02 of 2012) and its introduction and consideration at once after dispensing with the rules concerning a bill (No 11 of 2013) on the same subject for setting up such educational cities in other districts of the province.Piloting the bill, the minister said the bill aimed at creating a hub of centres of excellence in the fields of education, health and research and to provide modern education and health facilities to the people. As it happened in developed countries, the government would provide land to the private sector to make education popular, he said.

Lawmaker Syed Sardar Ahmad said it was an important bill that would legalise the allotment of 8,921 acres of land in Malir to established educational institutions such as the Aga Khan Foundation, Aligarh Old Boys Association and others for setting up educational institutions.

Legislators Rafique Engineer, Syed Sardar Ahmad, Muzamil Qureshi, Haji Munawwar Ali Abbasi, Dr Sikander Mandro, Farzana Baloch, Rafique Bhanban, Heer Sohu and Masroor Jatoi suggested to the house an amendment to the bill ensuring that two elected representatives of the district where the education city was being set up be nominated by the Speaker to be part of the board of governors.

Jam Tamachi suggested to the house that if committees had been consulted on important bills before taking up these for consideration, it would have helped in removing confusion, if any.

Nargis N.D. Khan and Shehla Raza suggested that the word chairman in the bill be replaced with chairperson.Lawmaker Humera Alwani suggested that if time limit for setting up the institution was also attached with the lease, it would discourage the trend of disposing the leased land to some other institution after appreciation in land price.

After making amendments to clause 3(2)II of the bill to ensure nomination of two lawmakers from the respective district on the board of governors by the speaker of the assembly and replacing chairman with chairperson when the bill was put to the house it was passed unanimously.

Earlier soon after the house was called to order by Speaker Nisar Ahmad Khuhro at 11.20am, lawmaker Ghulam Quadir Chandio drew attention of the chair towards an ongoing tussle between the administration and lower staff of the Sindh varsity affecting campus atmosphere.

Lawmaker Saleem Khursheed Khokhar, whose adjournment motion for ensuring religious education in schools for non-Muslim students was on the order of the day, was disposed of after the law minister assured the house that the government was seized with the issue.

Responding to a point of order of Marvi Rashdi about protest by teachers of the Sindh Education Foundation about the closure of its 1,500 schools which would render 8,000 teachers jobless and affecting the future of 250,000 children, the law minister informed the house that the government had no intention to stop funds of the foundation. In this regard, a cheque had already been signed by the chief minister and lying with the finance department, he said, assuring the house that he would take up the matter with the finance secretary.

The consideration of The Qalandar Shahbaz University of Modern Sciences (bill No 9 of 2013), which was on the agenda, was deferred after being introduced in the assembly.

The Jinnah Sindh Medical University Bill (No 21 of 2012), which was also on the agenda, was deferred till Monday before the chair called it a day at 12.45pm as a briefing on the law and order situation by the Sindh and city police chiefs was scheduled for 1pm.

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