KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Friday asked the provincial government to ensure compliance with the production order of jailed lawmaker Faryal Talpur.
Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani had issued a production order for Ms Talpur who is in the custody of National Accountability Bureau in connection with the fake accounts case.
A resolution was moved by ruling Pakistan Peoples Party’s Marui Rashdi when the session was in the middle of discussing the day’s business. She sought the chair’s permission to suspend the day’s agenda and allow her to table the resolution.
Members of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Grand Democratic Alliance opposed the ‘interruption’ and demanded that scheduled business be taken up as per the sequence before the resolution, which included a debate on an adjournment motion by a PTI lawmaker regarding alarming rise of street crime in Karachi.
They opposed the resolution altogether.
However, the PPP member won the chair’s nod and moved the resolution out-of-turn.
The resolution reads: “The Provincial Assembly of Sindh is the custodian of the rights of the people of Sindh and the interests of the people of Sindh are represented by their duly elected MPAs.
“It is for this reason that the Rules of Procedure of the assembly empower the speaker and chairman of a standing committee to issue production orders of its members to ensure their attendance and numerous such orders have been issued and were complied with by relevant authorities in the past.”
The resolution said the speaker had issued production orders for Ms Talpur on Aug 16 to the relevant authorities in which the latter had been asked to produce the lawmaker to the provincial capital from Islamabad so that she could attend the current session of the provincial legislature.
“However, the authorities addressed in the production order have failed to comply with it [speaker’s directive].
“This house, therefore, resolves that the provincial government and/or the chief minister should approach the relevant authorities to ensure compliance of the production order.”
Ms Rashdi said around a week had passed, yet, the relevant authorities were not bringing her to the house to attend the session.
Various lawmakers belonging to the PTI wanted to speak on the resolution with the clear intention to oppose it. However, none of them, nor anyone else from the treasury benches, were allowed to speak further.
The resolution was put before the house and was passed with majority votes.
The PTI and its colleagues in other major parties opposed the resolution.
War of words
Earlier, members sitting on both sides of the aisle engaged in skirmishes during and after Question Hour.
PTI’s Khurrum Sher Zaman criticised Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh, saying he instead of responding to the questions asked in the assembly was unfairly consuming his energy in passing judgment on the federal government.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Chawla tried to respond to Mr Zaman but was interrupted by PTI’s parliamentary leader Haleem Adil Sheikh who directed personal attacks at Mr Chawla and received counterattacks in the same coin.
The chairman of the Sindh Public Accounts Committee, Ghulam Qadir Chandio, complained to the chair that Mr Sheikh’s attitude was as “intolerable and agonising” as it was a day earlier.
The chair finally succeeded in making Mr Sheikh and Minister Chawla quieten down, and expunging unparliamentary words from the record. The session was adjourned for Monday.
‘Thar coal can save oil import worth $10bn’
Energy Minister Shaikh informed the house that the world’s sixth largest coal reserves in Thar were sufficient to meet growing energy demands of the country for several decades and could save over $10 billion annually in the import of oil and gas for power generation only if the Centre devised a policy to exploit the natural energy resources of the province.
He was speaking during Question Hour.
He said that Sindh had indigenous coal reserves, abundant natural gas resources, wind, and solar power which could easily provide effective, sustainable, and long-term solution for energy problems of the entire country, but the Centre was not lending any support to fully exploit them.
He said the federal government was dragging its feet in granting permission to the Sindh government to initiate projects for generating electricity through Thar coal and renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power that could generate electricity on cheaper rates and bridge the demand and supply gap in the whole country.
Mr Shaikh said that solution to power crisis of the country was in Thar, but the ‘oil mafia’ had surrounded federal ministers to fail alternative means of low-price power generation such as coal and wind. “All the oil-power generating units should be converted into coal energy across the country to save billions of rupees,” he added.
He also criticised the PTI members for not playing their role in resolution of the province’s problems.
Mr Shaikh said that the PTI lawmakers were unable to take up the province’s issues with their party-led federal government as they did not have any say in their party and federal ministers did not pay any heed to their suggestions. “PTI’s federal ministers would not even see their MPAs,” he quipped.
Thatta-Jhimpir wind corridor
The minister said that the Thatta-Jhimpir wind corridor was the biggest in the country where 24 wind power units were already generating 1,236 megawatts.
“As many as 12 wind power projects and four solar power projects have long been pending approval by the federal government which appears absolutely disinterested in the projects only because they belonged to Sindh and were launched by the PPP,” he said.
He said that the investors were planning to abandon these projects due to lethargic attitude of the federal government in giving approval.
When PTI’s Dr Seema Zia said that the investors might be leaving the province due to corruption of the PPP-led provincial government, the minister retorted that the credibility of the provincial government could be judged by the fact that investors from several countries had come to Sindh.
In reply to a question by GDA’s Arif Mustafa Jatoi, he said that Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company had achieved its financial close for Phase-I of the project for production of 3.8 million tonnes per annum coal on April 4, 2016.
He said that three more mines would be established in Phases-II, III and IV which would bring 2,130 MW production in the national grid in addition to existing 660 MW being produced by Engro Powergen Thar Limited Power Company.
To a supplementary question, Mr Shaikh said that all the power projects were established at mine mouths and there were no environmental threats at the moment. “Environmental issues, if [they] arise, would be resolved,” he assured.
Replying to another question by GDA’s Jatoi, the minister said that biogas was not utilised to produce electricity in the province. “However, a pilot project has been prepared to provide 150 biogas plants in Sanghar, Mirpurkhas, Badin, Shikarpur, Larkana and suburban areas of Karachi to produce gas for cooking purpose in small households,” he informed.
To another question, the minister said that 1,305 MW wind power was being produced through 20 private companies, while 35 other companies were engaged in development of 2,485 MW wind power.
He said that 54,700 acres had been leased out for renewable energy projects and 42,000 acres for renewable energy parks.
Besides, he said, as many as 60 letters of interest (LoIs) were issued for the development of solar, wind and hydro projects.
Published in Dawn, August 24th, 2019