Sindh Assembly demands KE’s forensic audit, more power companies in Karachi

Updated 28 Jul 2020

Email

The provincial assembly adopted two separate resolutions pertaining to the electricity crisis in the province. — APP/File
The provincial assembly adopted two separate resolutions pertaining to the electricity crisis in the province. — APP/File

KARACHI: Condemning the K-Electric for prolonged and unannounced loadshedding in Karachi, the Sindh Assembly on Monday unanimously demanded the provincial government to approach the federal government for actions against the power utility including its forensic audit.

The provincial assembly adopted two separate resolutions pertaining to the electricity crisis in the province, also seeking exemption of taxes and levies on the import of solar power equipment and permission for other power utilities to work in Karachi.

Through a joint resolution, the house called upon the provincial government to approach the federal government to conduct a forensic audit of the KE and ask it to end prolonged loadshedding in Karachi.

The joint resolution, moved by Mohammad Hussain Khan of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan’s parliamentary party leader Mufti Mohammad Qasim Fakhri, also condemned the power utility for suspending power supply in the city.

PTI boycotts sitting after speaker disallows opposition leader from discussing city’s situation after rains

Initially, the lawmakers through their joint resolution had asked the federal government to revoke KE’s licence. However, the draft was later amended when MQM-P member Khawaja Izharul Hassan pointed out that the cancellation of licence would further pile miseries on Karachiites as there was no other electricity providing company in the city while thousands of employees were also working in the power utility.

The MQM-P member also moved another resolution demanding the provincial government to approach the federal government for allowing other power utilities to work in Karachi.

“It would make competition amongst the companies and eventually would benefit the citizens,” he said.

Through yet another resolution, Mr Khan of the MQM-P asked the federal and provincial governments to soften taxes and levies imposed on solar energy equipment.

All resolutions were adopted unanimously in the absence of lawmakers belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.

PTI boycotts proceedings

The PTI members earlier boycotted the proceedings when the chair did not allow the request of Leader of the Opposition Firdous Shamim Naqvi for having a debate on the civic condition of the city in the wake of a recent spell of monsoon rains.

The opposition leader was of the view that issues pertaining to the destructions and havoc caused by the recent rains in the city warranted a thorough discussion as people wanted to know when the city would be safe for them.

He also took exception of absence of the local government minister in the house and deplored that the minister was addressing a press conference instead of attending the assembly session.

“We have been waiting for him here for over two and half hours to have a discussion on the city situation,” he rose to tell the speaker and left the house along with other PTI members saying they would come back when the LG minister joined the proceedings.

Wearing mask at public places mandatory

The house unanimously passed ‘The Sindh Covid-19 Emergency Relief (Amendment) Bill, 2020’ making it mandatory for all to wear face masks at public places for a prescribed period to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The bill also asked organisations to approve paid leave for employees infected with the deadly virus.

“Any person employed at any establishment who is tested positive for Covid-19 shall be allowed paid-leave for the period he remains in isolation and shall follow the operating procedures prescribed by the health department,” a clause of the bill read.

It added that during the isolation period, the government shall provide financial assistance to daily wage earners who tested positive and follow the standard operating procedures.

The assembly also passed ‘The Sindh Safe Cities Authority Bill, 2019’, ‘The Sindh Wildlife Protection, Preservation, Conservation And Management Bill, 2020’ and ‘The Drugs (Sindh Amendment) Bill, 2020’.

LG law has ‘sufficient financial autonomy’

The provincial assembly was informed that the Sindh Local Government Act (SLGA) 2013 had sufficient financial autonomy and the provincial government was working on further reforms and improvements on the financial side of the law.

Replying to lawmakers’ written and verbal queries during the Question Hour in the house, parliamentary secretary Salim Baloch on behalf of the LG minister submitted that two laws — the Sindh Local Government Ordinance-2001 and SLGA-2013 — could not be compared with each other because the former had an entirely different premise or foundation as it attempted to bring all government departments in the district under the command of nazim.

“The system failed and all the provinces in the country refused to continue and enacted new laws,” he added.

To a question by PTI’s Khurram Sher Zaman, he denied that the Sindh Building Control Authority was taking minimum actions against illegally constructed buildings in the province.

He further stated that three to four actions were being taken on a daily basis against illegal and unauthorised buildings.

“As per record of nine months, the SBCA has demolished more than 644 unauthorised construction sites,” he said.

To another question by Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal’s Syed Abdur Rasheed, the parliamentary secretary said it was not fact that thousands of criminals had been appointed in the LG department.

He also said there was no amenity plot encroached in district South during 2017 and 2018.

46 dangerous buildings in district Central To another question by PTI’s Adeeba Hasan, Mr Baloch said that some private agencies were doing bottled water business in Karachi. “There is no policy under the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board to issue them licences,” he said, adding that the policy in this regard was being formulated under the orders of the Supreme Court.

Replying to another question, he said that as many as 46 buildings were declared unsafe/dangerous for human habitation in district Central.

Giving a break-up, he said that there were two such buildings in New Karachi, three in North Nazimabad, nine in Gulberg Town and 32 in Liaquatabad Town.

Mr Baloch said that ejectment notices had been issued to the occupants of these buildings and such information was also publicised through newspapers.

In reply to a question asked by MQM’s Rashid Khilji, he said that a scheme for “improvement and enhancement of sewerage system in … in Hyderabad with a cost of Rs414.14 million got approved from the competent authority” and the provincial government had released an amount of Rs25.88m.

Published in Dawn, July 28th, 2020