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KARACHI: Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has said people have every right to protest against shortages of drinking water and power, and invited all political parties to stage a sit-in outside the Prime Minister House in Islamabad.

He was referring to people who were planning to hold a sit-in outside the Chief Minister House.

During a press conference in his chamber at the Sindh Assembly here on Thursday, Mr Shah alleged that the ruling PML-N had unleashed a policy of ‘crushing’ Sindh and its people by reducing water, power and transfers of funds.

“This is a political agenda which is affecting not only our day-to-day life but our agro-industrial economy as well,” he said.

Murad invites all parties to stage sit-in outside PM House

Referring to prolonged loadshedding of about 12 to 18 hours in the province, the CM said, “This shows how serious the vendetta of the federal government is against the people of Sindh, because they have been voting for the PPP since 1970s.”

He said he had written two letters to the prime minister and talked to him on telephone at least six times to draw his attention towards the SSGC and K-Electric dispute.

“The PM told me that he will speak to both entities (SSGC and KE). Instead, he deputed Miftah Ismail to settle the dispute,” Mr Shah said and added that when he called Mr Ismail on his mobile phone it was playing a message that he was out of the country.

Giving details of the dispute, the CM said the SSGC claimed that the KE had to pay outstanding dues of Rs29 billion, therefore, it had reduced gas supply from 276mmcfd to 90mmcfd to the KE.

“As a result, four gas-based power plants of KE have stopped generating electricity. But when the SSGC claim was audited, it was found that the principal amount was Rs13bn while the rest were late payment charges and interest,” he added.

The chief minister said the KE was ready to clear the old amount in instalments with full current payment of gas. The court has also directed the SSGC to supply 276mmcfd gas to KE.

“The federal government has 73 per cent share in SSGC and 24pc in KE. This is your [federal government’s] dispute. Why are you penalising Karachi?” the chief minister questioned.

Mr Shah said power outages also affected water supply to Karachi.

Talking about rural areas, the chief minister said 18 hours of loadshedding was being experienced in his home district of Jamshoro, 16 hours in Shaheed Benazirabad and Larkana, 14 hours in Hyderabad and Sukkur, and 12 hours in Mirpurkhas.

Transfer of funds

Recalling shortfall in transfer of federal funds, the chief minister said the federal government had not given them their due share of Rs94bn.

“This has caused serious problems,” he said and added that was the reason he had curtailed some development expenditures.

Commenting on water shortages during the Rabi season, the CM said IRSA had conveyed to the Sindh government that there would be 20pc shortage of water but the shortage had reached 36pc.

“I don’t know if the shortage is natural or theft of Sindh’s water,” he said.

Replying to a question about the raid conducted on the local government department by NAB, the chief minister said, “This is not right that BPS-17 and 18 officers conduct a raid on the office of local government secretary who belongs to BPS-20, snatch his mobile phone, insult him, take away his files and arrest his personal secretary.

“I asked the chief secretary to speak to the NAB director general. The latter apologised and said all the articles will be returned to the LG secretary,” the CM concluded.

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2018