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KARACHI: Local Government Minister Jam Khan Shoro on Monday blamed the federal government for carrying out up to 16 hours of load-shedding in Hyderabad, Thatta and other parts of Sindh that resulted in an acute water shortage in the province.

He said this while responding to the call-attention notices of three lawmakers — engineer Sabir Qaimkhani and Kamran Akhtar of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Ameer Haider Sheerazi of the PML-Nawaz — who raised the issue of water shortage and unfiltered supply in the province, including Karachi, Hyderabad, Thatta and Gharo.

The same issue also echoed during the discussion on two quarterly reports of the provincial budget for financial year 2016-17 when five opposition legislators called upon the government to expedite the execution of K-4 water supply project and to improve water supply.

Minister Shoro said that the reason of disruption of water supply in interior of Sindh was 16 hours of load-shedding by the Water and Power Development Authority.

The PPP was already protesting against it, he said and asked the MQM legislators to join his party’s protest.

He said besides taking care of the existing source of water and filter plants, people of Hyderabad would be gifted a big water plant in the upcoming budget to improve filtered water supply.

He said in Karachi the K-4 and other projects would be completed by 2018.

The minister criticised past governments which he said failed to take any practical steps to overcome the increasing water crisis in Sindh, including Karachi.

He said it was the PPP which had initiated the K-4 project and three projects to provide 65 million gallons daily. It also replaced and renovated decades-old pumping machines and initiated work on laying new water lines.

He said different parties during their rule in Sindh were involved in setting up illegal hydrant to steal water. However, at present only seven hydrants were operational in the city as some 72 illegal hydrants were demolished and many illegal underground water connections were also cut off.

The government had installed reverse-osmosis (RO) plants in Karachi and other cities to improve water supply. However, he conceded that a few of them were non-operational due to brackish water.

Budget discussion

On Monday, when the assembly reassembled after a two-day break, five more legislators from the opposition benches spoke.

Criticising the government performance, they said the PPP despite remaining in power for the past nine years and spending billions of rupees in the name of development schemes failed to bring any improvement in the life of the common man because development funds were either unspent because of non-execution of projects or embezzled.

Jamal Ahmad of the MQM said although schemes of opposition lawmakers had been made part of the budget for the past many years, the government did not release funds.

He said that the PPP government was neither releasing any fund to elected representatives nor giving any power to the Karachi mayor to carry out development.

PML-F’s Nusrat Sehar Abbasi said that the assembly was discussing the budget but neither ministers nor secretaries were present in the official gallery to take notes. She said this was an era of bad governance in Sindh. The PPP was protesting against load-shedding but why did it not paying any heed towards water scarcity and corruption, she asked.

Dr Zafar Kamali of the MQM said that the situation in Sindh remained unchanged despite the government’s claim that it had allocated billions of rupees in the provincial budget. Soon after announcement of the new budget members of the treasury benches could be seen driving new cars, he said.

Khurram Sherzaman of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf stressed the need for paying attention to direct taxes in the new budget. He said indirect taxes be avoided as they directly affected the common man.

Saeed Khan Nizamani of the PML-F said that the PPP government had totally ignored the constituencies of the opposition legislators. This is injustice as it was the responsibility of every government to look after everyone living in the province with equity and justice.

Cricketer Younis Khan greeted

Before the house was adjourned at 6pm to meet on Tuesday, the assembly unanimously adopted a resolution tabled by PTI’s Khurram Sherzaman with signatures from MPAs across the house to congratulate former Pakistan skipper Younis Khan on completion of his 10,000 runs in Test cricket.

The Sindh Assembly greeted Mr Khan for becoming the first Pakistani batsman to achieve the milestone of 10,000 runs.

Earlier, at the start of proceedings at 3pm, Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani warned all provincial ministers and lawmakers not to bring unregistered vehicles on the assembly premises.

He said it was brought to his knowledge that some MPAs brought unregistered vehicles with tinted glasses and the people accompanying them were found roaming in the assembly lobbies.

He said he had directed the assembly staff that if they found any unconcerned person roaming around in the assembly galleries the services of the member of the staff would be terminated as there could be no compromise on the security of the house.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2017