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KARACHI: The Sindh government on Monday declared Thar a drought-hit area, decided to install desalination plant in Karachi and convert the Governor House into a museum if vacated by the federal government.

The decisions were taken by the new cabinet in its meeting, presided over by Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, here on Monday.

The meeting, which lasted two-and-a-half hours from 5pm, was informed that the law and order situation was under control and instructions were issued to the authorities concerned to ensure cleanliness during Eidul Azha.

It was decided in the meeting that Keenjhar, Haleji, Hydero and other depressions be developed as a reliable reservoir for water supply to Karachi.

‘Governor House will be converted into a museum if federal govt vacates it’

Briefing the media after the meeting, Minister Sardar Shah and Adviser Murtaza Wahab said that according to a senior member of the Board of Revenue, Iqbal Durrani, all the 167 dehs of Tharparkar and 25 dehs of Umerkot were calamity hit.

They added that Mithi received only 58mm rain during the last three months while Islamkot received 24mm, Diplo 51mm, Kaloi 10mm, Chachhro 105mm, Dahli 120mm and Nagarparkar 40mm of rain.

Barrister Wahab further said that 323,435 families in Thar and 43,240 families in Umerkot were affected.

He maintained that the cabinet decided to give 50kg of wheat to each family every month.

The chief minister directed the senior member to seek information about drought in Achhro Thar, Kachho and Kohistan from the deputy commissioners concerned so that their residents could be helped.

He also constituted a committee comprising Revenue Minister Makhdoom Mahboob and Education Minister Sardar Shah to visit Thar along with Mr Durrani and provincial secretaries of health and food, and recommend relief measures.

Taking notice of the water supply schemes in Karachi, Mr Shah directed Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani to start work on installing desalination plant in Karachi so that the water issue of the city could be resolved.

He formed a committee under Mr Ghani to prepare a report within 12 days.

Mr Durrani informed the cabinet that the Governor House was Sindh government’s property. The cabinet proposed to covert the Governor House into a museum and its land into a park if the governor chose to vacate it.

Law and order

Home Secretary Mohammad Haroon told the meeting that the overall law and order situation in the province was under control.

He said necessary instructions had been issued to commissioners, DCs, IGP, DIGs about law and order, cleanliness and other arrangements during Eid.

He added that all the DCs had been authorised to issue licences to dealers/charities for purchase and sale of animal hides after fulfilling legal formalities.

Mr Haroon further said that the list of banned organisations (Schedule IV) had been publicised and provided to all the authorities concerned so that their activities could be monitored.

The chief minister told the IG that a bomb blast had taken place in Shikarpur last year on the occasion of Eid and asked him to take strict precautionary measures in Jacobabad, Shikarpur, Dadu and nearby districts.

Budget

The chief minister said the last government [of the PPP] had passed a budget for three months to enable the caretaker government to make necessary expenditures up to September 2018.

“Now, we have to prepare a new budget before Sept 30 and present it in the house.

“The financial situation of the province is not so good as we have not received the funds from the federal government,” he said.

Talking about the suo motu case regarding utilisation of luxury vehicles, Mr Shah directed the chief secretary to include the issue in the agenda of the cabinet’s next meeting so that an appropriate decision could be taken about the vehicles.

Water position

Irrigation Secretary Jamal Shah briefed the cabinet about water and said the rice crop suffered huge loss due to its shortage.

He said the government was giving priority to drinking water and added that the construction of Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams would be beneficial for the country.

The secretary added there were suggestions to defer rice sowing season from May 1 until June 15.

He went on to say that groundwater resources may be tapped and saline water agriculture be promoted.

The chief minister said he had banned cultivation of rice on the left bank of the Indus. He directed the chief secretary to get report from all DCs about the cultivation of rice on the left bank of the river so that action could be taken.

Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2018