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KARACHI: The opposition in the Sindh Assembly on Friday slammed the provincial government for poor sanitation, failure to provide clean drinking water to the people and handing over of an iconic park to a property tycoon.

Only three items — Question Hour, call-attention notices and laying of the second quarter’s budget execution report — were on the order of the day and the entire business was covered in around two hours.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement lawmaker Faisal Sabzwari raised the issue of handing over of a Karachi Metropolitan Corporation park — Bagh Ibne Qasim — to Bahria Town.

Amid slogans of ‘shame, shame’, Local Government Minister Jam Khan Shoro defended his government’s decision and reminded Mr Sabzwari and others that it was the MQM which had occupied over 300 parks where it constructed party offices and allowed other commercial activities.

Sensing the sentiments in the house, Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani, who called the house to order at 11am, read out the governor’s order to prorogue the session sine die after completion of business.

Earlier, MQM’s Mohammad Hussain in his call-attention notice pointed out ‘double standard’ of the government in releasing Rs40 million each to opposition MPAs under the community development programme for the execution of their approved schemes. The LG minister responded that it had nothing to do with the local government department as it pertained to the planning and development department.

The speaker suggested the lawmaker to file his question again by addressing the department concerned.

In his call-attention notice, MQM’s Kamran Akhtar asked the government about action taken against officials responsible for deterioration of the city’s infrastructure by violating the Karachi master plan.

He held former chief controller of the Sindh Building Control Authority Manzoor Qadir Kaka, who he said fled to Canada, responsible for the city’s infrastructure-related problems and alleged that he had minted Rs80 billion by “Canada cutting”.

He asked what steps the government had taken to bring him back to face cases against him.

The LG minister, however, brushed aside his allegations and asked the legislator as to who was involved in the “china- and London-cutting”. He said everyone knew on whose orders “china-cutting” was carried out in the city.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf lawmaker Khurram Sherzaman drew the attention of the authorities to a recent report which said that clean drinking water was not available in 13 districts of Sindh.

He said that six Karachi districts were among the 13 districts. He said in Thar a major reverse-osmosis plant, which was inaugurated by former president Asif Ali Zardari, was also not an exception.

Responding to his call-attention notice, LG Minister Shoro said that Sindh was at the tail-end of the country and all polluted water and industrial waste from other parts of the country was diverted into the Indus, which was the main cause of our concern.

However, the government was taking necessary measures to improve the situation, he added.

Yusuf Shahwani of the MQM also pointed out the unhygienic situation in his constituency, Keamari. He said that corrupt officials had destroyed the locality.

Mr Shoro said that all the staff had been changed on the complaint of the MPA. However, it would take some time to improve the situation, he added.

In his call-attention notice, Sabir Qaimkhani of the MQM highlighted the non-payment of salaries to the employees of the water and sanitation agency (Wasa) for the last six months and said that they had announced to go on strike. He said that Sindh government owed Rs2 billion to Wasa.

The LG minister said that the people should know as to who had recruited “ghost” employees in Wasa and destroyed the agency. “We have taken action against the ghost employees and the people were upset.”

He said he could name the “unit and sector in charge” and workers recruited in Wasa as “ghost” employees.

He said that the government had looked after Rs800m electricity dues of Wasa and the government was taking measures to improve water supply and sewerage system in Hyderabad and Latifabad. He said that Hyderabad was the city of the PPP and “we are taking due steps to improve the situation”.

Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2017