KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Friday directed the chief secretary of Sindh to constitute a committee with terms of reference within 10 days to recommend amendments to the law to empower transport department to control unauthorised use of CNG kits and cylinders in public transport vehicles and school vans.

The two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar also ruled that the proposed committee will forward its proposals to the cabinet within one month from the date of its notification.

In the last hearing, the additional advocate general had submitted a copy of the summary for cabinet approval of both drafts bills of the Sindh CNG Kit Cylinder Fitness Authority and the Motor Vehicles (amendments) Ordinance, adding that both bills were vetted by the law department and submitted to the chief minister, who had also approved them.

When a set of identical petitions about use of substandard CNG kits and cylinders in commercial vehicles as well as school vans came up for hearing on Friday, additional advocate general Jawaid Dero submitted that the provincial cabinet had considered both the draft bills.

The cabinet was of the view that instead of making separate legislation, it was proper to confer powers to the transport department to control the unauthorised CNG kits and cylinders in vehicles after making amendments to the Motor Vehicles Ordinance, the AAG added.

He further submitted that the cabinet also advised the chief minister to constitute a committee to suggest such amendments.

A representative of transport department informed the bench that the committee had not been notified yet.

The petitioners had agreed that necessary amendments be made to the Motor Vehicles Ordinance to control unauthorised use of CNG kits and cylinders and requested that they may be allowed to submit suggestions in writing to the proposed committee for consideration.

The bench said that the petitioners and their counsel may submit their written suggestions to the proposed committee through the AAG and adjourned the matter till Jan 28.

Traffic police ‘taking bribes’

Advocates Muzammil Mumtaz, Tariq Mansoor and others had moved the SHC and contended that substandard CNG cylinders were being used in the public transport vehicles as well as in school vans despite directions of the court and no action was being taken against such vehicles.

Impleading the home secretary, transport secretary, DIG traffic, Ogra and others as respondents, they asked the court to direct the respondents to take action against traffic police engaged in demanding bribes and restrain public transport vehicles and school vans from using substandard CNG cylinders and overloading.

They further argued that a rickshaw driver was forced to commit suicide as money was extorted from him at least three times and alleged that it was a routine in Karachi that traffic police were engaged in demanding bribes from rickshaw drivers and motorbike riders on main roads, and on refusal they imposed undue fines on them.

Locust invasion

The same bench on Friday ordered the provincial authorities to ensure that all best possible measures must continue against locust invasion in Sindh.

A petitioner had approached the SHC and sought directions for the national food security and research secretary, the Sindh chief secretary and other respondents to start an active campaign against swarm of locusts attacking the province.

At the outset of the hearing on Friday, the comments were filed on behalf of the provincial secretary of agriculture, which stated that Sukkur, Ghotki, Khairpur, Tharparkar, Umerkot, Sanghar, Shaheed Benazirabad, Naushahro Feroze, Shikarpur, Mirpurkhas, Larkana and Badin districts were affected due to locust attacks.

It maintained that spray was conducted on 6,546 acres and 57 teams of agriculture extension Sindh were working in all affected districts.

In the reply it was stated that the chief secretary constituted an implementation and oversight committee on July 24 to implement precautionary and combat measures against locust attack and the provincial government had released funds of Rs16 million to the deputy commissioners of affected districts, adding that another amount of Rs319.695m was released for locusts’ surveillance and control operation.

In a nutshell, the comments disclosed that all efforts were in process to fight the locusts’ invasion and the government was taking all necessary actions with sincere efforts to combat the locust attack.

The bench disposed of the petition with the direction to the chief secretary and the secretary of agriculture to continue all best possible combat measures.

Published in Dawn, December 21st, 2019