KARACHI: Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho on Friday urged the federal and provincial governments to devise a policy to contain contamination in the Indus River as the issue of potable water related to all provinces.
She said that the river water was contaminated from north to south due to industrial, agricultural and human waste, leading to an alarming increase in waterborne diseases in the country, especially in Sindh, being the lower riparian.
She was replying to the lawmakers’ written and verbal queries during Sindh Assembly’s Question Hour.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Khurram Sher Zaman asked if it was a fact that over 50 per cent of the people in the province were suffering from diseases related to water and sanitation.
The health minister replied that the common diseases due to lack of proper sanitation were diarrhoea, dysentery and typhoid, adding that the incidence of diarrhoea in the province was 24.52pc and dysentery was 8pc.
“However, six cases of typhoid per one million are estimated to occur in South Asia,” she said, adding that over 1.2m cases of diarrhoea and over 300,000 of dysentery were reported last year.
An opposition lawmaker informs the house about an alarming rise in street crimes in Karachi
To another question, asked by PTI’s Adeeba Hassan, she said that 10 children died due to measles and its complication in district Tharparkar during the past three years.
She said the measles virus had come to Tharparkar from districts Badin, Thatta, Mirpurkhas and Umerkot during marriage ceremonies in January and February in 2018.
Schools’ fee concession during first lockdown
Education Minister Syed Sardar Shah informed the house that all private schools in the province were bound to enrol at least 10pc poor students as per the Sindh Private Educational Institutions Ordinance 2001.
He was replying to the calling-attention notice given by Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan’s Sarwat Fatima, who had asked the minister to inform what action was taken against those private schools which charged high fees during the lockdown.
The minister conceded that several private schools did not give 20pc concession in the fee during the Covid-19 pandemic as notified by the provincial government under the Emergency Relief Act.
“Action will be taken against those who did not give fee concession during April 2020 to September 2020,” he added.
The minister said that there were over 3.2m students in private institutions and over 300,000 poor students could also get education in these institutions if 10pc quota was implemented.
SBCA under fire
In reply to a calling-attention notice, the parliamentary secretary for local government department, Saleem Baloch, said that the Sindh Building Control Authority was conducting operations against illegal constructions in Karachi on a day-to-day basis.
Giving the details of action against illegal buildings, he said that the SBCA demolished or sealed 97 illegal structures in July, 138 in August and 38 in September.
He was replying to a notice by PTI’s Mohammad Riaz Haider, who said that illegal constructions were being made openly across Karachi, especially in his constituency, due to inefficiency and corruption of the SBCA officials.
The PTI member said that tragic accidents were increasing day by day due to illegal and unauthorised constructions in the city. He asked the government what kind of action was being taken by the SBCA to stop the illegal construction and against the officials involved in corruption.
Replying to another calling-attention notice given by Jamal Siddiqui of the PTI, Mr Baloch said that recent monsoon rains did not play any havoc and the situation remained totally under control as the provincial government had taken “concrete and effective” steps for cleaning the storm-water drains.
He said that the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had cleaned only three out of total 44 storm-water drains under the administrative control of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation.
“It was for the first time that sludge, taken out from the drains, was shifted to landfill sites and the payment to the contractor was made after weighing the sludge,” he added.
Minister concedes rise in street crimes
In reply to a calling-attention notice of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s parliamentary party leader Kanwar Naveed Jameel, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Mukesh Kumar Chawla conceded that there was slight increase in street crime but it was brought down.
He said the security situation was far better than the past when over 100 trussed-up bodies used to be found in gunny bags.
Mr Jameel said that street crimes in Karachi increased by 34pc compared to last year, adding that over 50,000 cases were reported in 2021 so far.
He said that 54 people were killed and 458 others were injured during robbery incidents in the city in 2021. He said that 34,181 motorcycles and 1,268 cars were either stolen or snatched during the period.
Replying to another calling-attention notice by the MQM-P, Mr Baloch said that Karachi was being supplied 1,200 cusecs water despite the fact that there was shortage of 4,000 cusecs water in KB Feeder.
Deputy Speaker Rehana Leghari adjourned the proceedings to Monday.
‘CCI rejects Sindh’s low-cost power projects’
Later, talking to reporters at the ‘Media Corner’ on the premises of the Sindh Assembly, Energy Minister Imtiaz Ahmed Shaikh said that the Council of Common Interests (CCI) in its meeting had rejected all low-cost power generation projects proposed by Sindh and approved the projects which would produce electricity at 88pc higher price.
He said that the PTI-led federal government deliberately sabotaged the power projects proposed by the Sindh government.
Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2021