KARACHI: Criticising the federal government for carrying out up to 20 hours of loadshedding, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Tuesday regretted that despite paying a hefty sum of Rs27 billion to the Water and Power Development Authority, Sindh was facing extreme loadshedding in the sizzling weather.
In his policy statement made in the Sindh Assembly on a private resolution filed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf lawmaker Khurram Sherzaman, the CM said that Wapda had claimed Rs77bn in the head of dues against Sindh, but after calculation it agreed to write off Rs50bn.
He said a certificate regarding dues’ clearance would be produced in the house on Thursday.
The chair allowed Mr Sherzaman to move his resolution after relaxing all relevant rules. He wanted the government to take steps to minimise loadshedding in the province by enabling new captive power plants (NCPPs), which at present are sitting idle.
Another resolution seeks limits on excessive fee hikes by private schools
He urged the provincial government to provide tariff differential support to the NCPPs that hold valid gas allocation and are willing to install new power plants before the summer of 2018.
CM Shah recalled that he had been working on the issue for many years and the PPP government had worked out a policy to take steps to alleviate the people’s woes. He said that NCPPs were established in accordance with the new policy.
He said that power plants of over 100 megawatts could not be made operational because Nepra, with a unilateral decision, reduced the tariff. He said if the NCPPs became operational, it would certainly reduce loadshedding by six hours in their respective areas.
Mr Shah further said that Article 157 of the Constitution pertaining to electricity was not being followed and Sindh had suggested an amendment in this respect.
The CM said that the month of Ramazan was fast approaching and in order to provide relief to the people from loadshedding, the government had taken up the issue in the last meeting of the Council of Common Interests for utilisation of 100MW if the old tariff was restored.
He said if the Sindh Assembly adopted the resolution, he would ask the department to work out the difference in case of revised tariff so that the government could take up the issue with the federal government to provide relief by compensating the differential tariff.
He said if the federal government was not willing to compensate the differential tariff, the Sindh government would bear its cost.
In response to Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Syed Sardar Ahmed and Faisal Sabzwari’s question about details of the possible tariff differential subsidy, the chief minister assured the house that the details of the differential cost would be worked out and would be laid before the house soon.
After the statement of the chief minister, the resolution was put to a vote by the speaker and carried unanimously.
After adoption of the resolution at 2.20pm, the house, which was called to order at 12.10pm by Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani, was adjourned till Thursday.
Resolution on fee hike by private schools
Two more resolutions tabled by opposition lawmakers on Tuesday, which is a private members’ day, were also adopted with a consensus since the ruling PPP did not oppose them.
In his resolution, Mr Sherzaman of the PTI called for implementation of a notification dated Sept 20, 2005 of the education department through which private educational institutions were allowed “no more than five per cent increase” in their fees subject to approval by the government.
The notification also said that the minimum salary allowance of a full-time teacher should not be less than four times the monthly fee of a single student charged in the highest class.
The PTI lawmaker also wanted implementation on fee concession to deserving students and ward scholarships to students with meritorious record and free education to at least 10pc of the total strength in the institutions.
MQM’s Qamar Abbas Rizvi recommended in his resolution that the subject of disaster management be included in the syllabus of secondary schools.
Goods carriers’ strike
Before the speaker could take up another resolution from the order of the day, Senior Minister Nisar Khuhro drew the attention of the house towards the ongoing strike of goods carriers due to which no space had been left to keep any more containers at the ports.
Recalling the background of the strike, the senior minister informed the house that the issue surfaced when the Sindh High Court ruled that no container-laden cargo truck could use roads passing through the centre of the city.
He said the Supreme Court had allowed heavy traffic to pass through the city between 11pm and 6am on a daily basis. He said that the matter was in court and the hearing was fixed for May 20. “This is a matter of the economy of the country,” he added.
The minister said the provincial government would also send the advocate general to sort out some solution of the ongoing crisis as there was no road in Karachi which was not passing through residential and commercial areas.
The chair said the solution lay in dialogue with stakeholders to find some alternative route for heavy traffic.
Transport Minister Nasir Hussain Shah said: “We are in negotiation with all stakeholders including striking transporters and representatives of industries and chambers because we want to get the issue resolved at the earliest.”
Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2017