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KARACHI: The Sindh cabinet has observed that the province and its people are being meted out what it described as ‘step-motherly’ treatment by the Centre in respect of water distribution and prolonged load-shedding and as a result, not only are crops turning pale, but also people and animals are suffering in the sweltering heat.

Expressing concern over the federal government’s moratorium on new gas connections, the cabinet demanded removal of the ban and pointed out the constitutional provision about giving priority in gas connections to provinces where the gas was produced.

The cabinet also took notice of Hesco and Sepco’s recovering power bills from residential consumers through NAB and described it as “unacceptable”.

The meeting of the cabinet, which met here at CM House on Wednesday under the chairmanship of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, was attended by all provincial ministers, special assistants, the chief secretary and other officers concerned.

The issues of prolonged load-shedding, water shortage, new gas connections and ongoing second phase of census were on the agenda.

Energy secretary Agha Wasif told the cabinet that Hesco was carrying out up to 16 hours of load-shedding daily.

He said Sepco was carrying out load-shedding up to eight hours in rural areas.

About K-Electric, he said that where feeder losses were 40 per cent, the KE was carrying out 2.5 hours of load-shedding, at 25pc losses it resorted to two hours and at 15pc losses it resorted to one hour load-shedding.

He said a rise in demand and low recovery of dues from private consumers were main reason for load-shedding.

The inefficiency of DISCOS, weak transmission and distribution system and delayed maintenance of Gencos were also contributing factors in prolonged hours of load-shedding, he added.

The chief minister directed the finance and the energy secretary to clear all remaining dues of Hesco and Sepco.

Census questions

The provincial census chief briefed the cabinet about the second phase of census.

The chief minister directed the provincial census chief to convey reservations of the cabinet to the census commissioner that only relevant questions should be asked of citizens.

The cabinet expressed its reservation on keeping the counting secret from the family members concerned.

Water shortage

Irrigation secretary Jamal Shah informed the cabinet that early Kharif season lasted from April 1 to June 10 and late Kharif from June 11 to September 30. He said the province was facing water shortage.

The chief minister said Irsa should give water share to Sindh as per accord.

He urged Irsa to close all link canals during the shortage period and fulfil Sindh’s indent to save cotton crop.

Secretary Shah said he expected that the water situation would improve in 10 days, subject to rise in temperature in Skardu.

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2017