LAHORE: The Punjab Aab-e-Pak Authority has finally been established to provide safe drinking water to the whole of population in the province.
Governor Chaudhry Sarwar has been appointed its patron-in-chief through the Act of Parliament.
The Punjab Assembly had created the Punjab Aab-e-Pak Authority as the House passed the authority’s Bill 2019 with majority vote on March 14 amidst opposition’s objections to the governor’s role as patron-in-chief.
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The Punjab Assembly secretariat, however, delayed forwarding the Act to the Governor’s Secretariat for his assent for over a month. On the eve of Punjab Assembly’s ninth session on Sunday, the Act was forwarded to the governor.
Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar who had recently returned from his visit abroad, immediately signed the Act making it a law applicable across the province.
The idea of setting up filtration plants to provide safe drinking water to the masses across the province was floated by Mr Sarwar himself and he had given a detailed presentation to Prime Minister Imran Khan when he visited Lahore in November last year.
The Authority will provide clean drinking water to 110 million people by installing water filtration plants. The water filtration plants will also be installed in jails, hospitals and universities. The governor claims that he is cognisant of the importance of maintenance of the paraphernalia required for the project.
The governor has asserted that the authority will provide clean drinking water to people of Punjab within the lifetime of this parliament. He says 80pc of people in the province are consuming unsafe drinking water and around 1.1 million people die annually due to waterborne diseases.
“The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s government in Punjab will relieve people of the problem of contaminated drinking water,” he said.
In Lahore alone, the governor said, around 200,000 children are being reported to be taken to the Children’s Hospital due to waterborne diseases. In hospitals, he said, 50pc of people were being admitted due to waterborne diseases.
Punjab Governor’s Sarwar Foundation is already setting up filtration plants in jails and committed to making the facility available in all prisons across the province. The governor is also getting support of a number of philanthropists and businessmen from home and abroad to ensure that filtration plants may reach vulnerable segments of society.
PML-N MPA Azma Bukhari, meanwhile speaking to Dawn, said she would challenge the creation of the authority in Punjab with federation’s representative governor as its patron-in-chief. “I will collect a copy of the Act from the Punjab Assembly on Monday (today) and challenge governor’s role in the authority,” she said.
Acknowledging that the governor has a role as the chancellor of universities in the province as duly mentioned in the Constitution, she said the Punjab government would have to change its as well as Punjab Assembly’s rules to allow governor to act as patron-in-chief of an authority created in Punjab.
Ms Bukhari said the governor’s role and acts could not be discussed in the assembly by law and added that the new role would strip him off of this immunity. “The legislators will have all the right in the Punjab Assembly to criticise the working of the authority and its patron-in-chief,” she said.
Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2019