KARACHI: Energy Minister Imtiaz Sheikh on Friday told the Sindh Assembly that the entire province was facing severe loadshedding due to “incompetency and inefficiency” of the federal government that had stopped providing furnace oil to the power utilities at a time when oil prices had come down in the international market.
He was still giving a policy statement on the matter of public importance when the proceedings were marred by uproar and chaos as members of both the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party and opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf exchanged heated arguments on the loadshedding issue.
It all started when Opposition Leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi rose to protest over the criticism of the energy minister on the federal government for loadshedding while the former was still on his feet.
The situation then took an ugly turn when one of the treasury members shouted at the opposition leader, asking him to take his seat loudly and harshly.
Subsequently, opposition members belonging to PTI, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Grand Democratic Alliance also stood up starting a strong protest against “unmannered” attitude of the ruling party’s member.
Speaker Durrani adjourns the sitting due to ruckus caused by treasury, opposition lawmakers
Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani, who tried to calm down agitating members from both sides, had to adjourn the house with majority of business including privilege motions, adjournments, private bills, private resolutions, private motions and amendments in rules still to be tabled.
Taking jibes at each other, the lawmakers from both sides left the house as the speaker adjourned the sitting to Monday.
Giving the policy statement, Minister Sheikh vehemently criticised the federal government and Federal Minister for Power and Energy Omar Ayub Khan saying he didn’t bother to visit Sindh and hold meetings with departments concerned after electricity shortfall.
“This is a serious matter, the federal minister should come to Sindh and sit with all stakeholders including the provincial government, KE, Sukkur Electric Power Company and Hyderabad Electric Supply Company,” he demanded.
The energy minister also asked Mr Khan to tender an apology for calling the people of Sindh “electricity thieves”.
He termed the federal minister’s statement a conspiracy against unity of Pakistan asking him to stop considering people of Sindh as second-rate citizens as it was also a part of Pakistan.
Mr Sheikh said that the power utilities were carrying out up to 18 hours loadshedding in interior parts of the province.
“The federal government owns 27 per cent shares of the KE and its owners are donors of PTI,” he said and added that PTI members held a protest outside the KE’s office yet they were served tea and cakes by the power utility.
Replying to lawmakers’ written and verbal queries during the Question Hour session in the house, Transport and Mass Transit Minister Syed Awais Shah informed the provincial assembly that the Sindh government was the first provincial government in the country to have notified CNG usage rules in pursuance of the orders of the Supreme Court.
In reply to a written question of MQM-P member Mangla Sharma, he said that unfortunately the CNG usage rules were not being followed in letter and spirit.
Resultantly, he said, the transport department imposed a ban on usage of CNG as fuel in commercial vehicles in the intercity passenger transport vehicles and school vans for the safety of people and students.
The minister said that the local administration and secretaries of the district regional transport authorities were removing CNG cylinders from the vehicles operating on intercity routes and educational institutes’ vehicles in compliance with an order given by the Sindh High Court.
To another written question asked by Syeda Marvi Faseeh of the ruling PPP, the minister said that bus operators increased fare during Eid festivals.
“But the transport and mass transit department authorities are very conscious and taking strict action against the operators/owners of vehicles who were charging excessive fare from the passengers,” he said.
The minister, however, did not give satisfactory replies to the verbal questions asked by opposition members.
The opposition members wanted to know what action the department had taken against the school vans and public vehicles fitted with CNG cylinders.
He could only say that he had all the details with him and he could provide them to the members, but did not tell them how many cylinders were removed from school vans and public transport vehicles and the amount of fines imposed on them.
Published in Dawn, July 25th, 2020