Chief Justice Saqib Nisar on Wednesday arrived in Sindh's Tharparkar district where he visited several health facilities and reviewed the ongoing development projects. He was accompanied by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah.
Talking to journalists at Thar coal field, the top judge lauded the efforts of the Sindh government in providing relief to Thari people, who have been hit by a severe drought due to nearly zero rainfall.
He, however, stressed that there was still a need to work on providing quality healthcare and education to the people living in the desert district.
Justice Nisar said although the provincial government was distributing free wheat among Tharis to cope with food insecurity, there was a great need to provide modern healthcare facilities to them to prevent mortalities of Thari children.
"The health sector is a provincial subject so the provincial government has to step in and stem the rot," Nisar stressed.
He revealed that during his visit to Diplo taluka hospital he had found an X-ray machine to be out of order. Also, he said, there were operation theatres in Mithi but no surgeon had been posted there to conduct surgeries.
The CJP said the huge coal reserves and several development projects being undertaken would usher in a new era of prosperity in the desert region. "I have already directed the chief minister, chief secretary and other officials of the Sindh government to focus on the core issues of Thar so that its people could get maximum relief in the wake of drought-like conditions," he said.
Earlier in the day, after landing at Mai Bakhtawar Airport, Thar, Justice Nisar reached Mithi via helicopter where he visited Asia's largest reverse osmosis (RO) plant in Misri Shah area. The Sindh chief minister and officials of the private firm briefed him about the plant and informed him that the plant was catering to the needs of over 50,000 people and their livestock living in Mithi and its surrounding areas.
To a question, the CJP was informed that on average the plant produced around 0.5-0.6 million gallons of water per day. The water is stored in two dedicated storage tanks, each of 0.5 million gallons capacity.
With Chief Minister Shah in the driving seat, the CJP then travelled to Mithi Civil Hospital where he inspected various wards where some of the patients and their attendants complained against the shortage of drugs.
The top judge expressed displeasure at the lack of facilities in the emergency ward. "What will you do in case of an emergency?," he asked the concerned officials, and directed them to ensure the provision of all required facilities.
"The hospital has been extensively decorated as if it is going to get married, but there is a shortage of drugs," he remarked during the visit.
The chief minister and other officials informed him that the Sindh government had "marshalled all its resources" to provide quality healthcare facilities in Mithi and the rest of Thar.
The officials claimed that most of the infants who were dying in the area were underweight and stated child marriages as the prime cause of the fatalities.
"We are trying our best to curb the menace of early marriages by launching awareness drives," the government officials said.
After visiting Diplo and some villages, Justice Nisar headed to the Thar coal field near Islamkot where he visited the project sites of coal-fired power plants and coal mines.
The officials of the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company briefed him about the progress of their projects. They said the firm was all set to produce 660MW of power by the end of January or by the first week of February.
The CJP was further informed that a 120-bed state-of-the-art hospital was under construction in Islamkot, that would cost Rs2 billion. It will start OPD service in 2019.
The Sindh government had released a Rs500 million grant for the hospital while Shahid Afridi Foundation has chipped in with Rs200m. The remaining amount is being generated from donations.
SC judges Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Sindh High Court Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M Shaikh, PTI lawmaker Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani and other high-ranking officials of various departments were present during the CJP's visit to Thar.
A large number of people from different areas of Thar and other districts approached the top judge with various complaints. He received the applications from them and assured them that their legal demands would be heard.