Sindh Assembly demands abandonment of controversial project on CJ Link Canal

Updated October 22, 2019

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The Sindh Assembly on Monday strongly condemned the federal government’s decision of issuing a no-objection certificate to a power generation concern for developing a 25-megawatt hydropower project on the Chashma-Jhelum (CJ) Link Canal and adopted a unanimous resolution against it. — APP/File
The Sindh Assembly on Monday strongly condemned the federal government’s decision of issuing a no-objection certificate to a power generation concern for developing a 25-megawatt hydropower project on the Chashma-Jhelum (CJ) Link Canal and adopted a unanimous resolution against it. — APP/File

KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Monday strongly condemned the federal government’s decision of issuing a no-objection certificate to a power generation concern for developing a 25-megawatt hydropower project on the Chashma-Jhelum (CJ) Link Canal and adopted a unanimous resolution against it.

Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on a point of order said that the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) had issued the NOC to CJ Hydropower (Pvt) Limited for developing a power project.

The CM sought permission from Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani for moving a resolution in the house against the federal government’s decision, saying it was a matter of public importance.

After being granted permission, Aziz Junejo from the treasury benches moved the resolution, which was adopted unanimously by the members amid a little commotion by opposition lawmakers when they were not allowed to move their resolution on the matter.

The resolution read: “This assembly categorically rejects the NOC given by the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) for the controversial hydropower plant on the Chashma-Jhelum Link Canal. This move is against the wishes of the people of Sindh. This house had also passed a resolution on 20th January 2010 opposing this project.

CM says he is holding meetings with police, Rangers to review street crimes’ situation in Karachi

“The house wants to remind the Irsa and the federal authorities that even the water cannot be released in Chashma-Jhelum Link Canal throughout the year and Sindh is already facing acute shortage of water and thousands of acres of coastal land have been eroded by the sea. Hence, this move is unwarranted.

“This house recommends the government of Sindh to approach the federal government to take up this issue of blatant flouting of the agreement and address the justified grievances of the people of Sindh. This house further recommends that the controversial hydroelectric plant on the Chashma-Jhelum Link Canal should be abandoned once and for all.”

CM seeks PTI, MQM, GDA’s help

Earlier, the chief minister said that Sindh was already facing huge problems due to water shortages.

He said that Irsa issued an NOC to the power-generation company despite a strong protest and objection of the Irsa member form Sindh.

The chief minister said that he had on Oct 18 written a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan for inducting an individual from Sindh to represent the Centre in Irsa.

He recalled that as per the federal government’s order in 2000, it was confirmed that the individual who would represent the federation would be taken from Sindh and asked the members of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Grand Democratic Alliance to play their role in appointment of the federal government’s representative in Irsa from Sindh.

Mr Shah said that he had written three letters to the prime minister on this issue during the current year, but to no avail as he got no response from the premier.

Giving the background of the controversial power project, he said that the Chashma-Jhelum Hydropower (Pvt) Limited was formed in 2009 and was later given the licence of power generation. “We objected to the project and the licence was cancelled after we moved court,” he said, adding that Irsa had also objected to the project at that time.

The chief minister recalled that the link canal was established in 1971 to cater to the shortage in the Jhelum River only in case the Indus had surplus water.

PPP MPA Junejo, who moved the resolution against the federal government’s decision, said that there were already huge problems the province was facing. He said that the worst affected by the water shortage were the farmers.

Leader of the Opposition Firdous Shamim Naqvi said that the PTI had no objection if the Centre’s representative in Irsa was from Sindh to ensure the preferential right of water for the lower riparian.

Road from Malir Cantt soon

Earlier, Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said that the double road in Gulistan-i-Jauhar from Malir Cantonment to Gulshan-i-Rumi would be constructed very shortly as the funds for first quarter had been released.

He was answering a calling-attention notice by PTI’s Rabia Azfar Nizami.

He said that the tender process for the work had been completed, but the project was delayed due a stay order by the court.

In reply to a calling-attention notice by MPA Shaharyar Khan Shar, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Ismail Rahu said that a survey was being conducted to ascertain the losses to the cotton crop due to bogus pesticides and heavy rains.

To another calling-attention notice by opposition member Abdul Rasheed, the chief minister, who also holds the portfolio of home, said that he was holding meetings with police and Rangers to review the situation of street crimes in Karachi.

Question Hour

Replying to the lawmakers’ written and verbal queries during Question Hour in the assembly, Mr Shah said that the federal government had issued a sovereign guarantee of $700 million for the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company.

He said that the guarantee was subject to the conditions that majority shareholding of the project shall be with the Sindh government which shall be responsible for the primary obligations against this sovereign guarantee.

To another question, the chief minister, who also hold the portfolio of finance, said that the management of the Sindh Bank Limited had reported that the exact amount of loans outstanding against various companies emanating from Omni Group was Rs17 billion.

In reply to a written question asked by GDA’s Arif Mustafa Jatoi, the minister gave the 10-year break-up of the amounts receivable and received by Sindh under the National Finance Commission award.

He informed the house that there was still a shortfall of over Rs19bn.

The chief minister said that it was for the first time in the country’s history that the revenue collection of the federal government decreased in the current fiscal year.

To a supplementary question, the chief minister dispelled the impression that the revenue collection had decreased in the province.

Published in Dawn, October 22nd, 2019