Sindh Assembly asks Centre to halt construction of two canals

Published November 23, 2021
Holding a banner inscribed with a slogan lamenting the demise of democracy in Sindh, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf lawmakers protest in front of the speaker’s rostrum during the Sindh Assembly session on Monday.— PPI
Holding a banner inscribed with a slogan lamenting the demise of democracy in Sindh, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf lawmakers protest in front of the speaker’s rostrum during the Sindh Assembly session on Monday.— PPI

KARACHI: Amid Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s boycott, the Sindh Assembly on Monday strongly condemned the federal government for constructing Jalalpur Canal and Greater Thal Canal’s Phase-II, passing a resolution that was also fully supported by two other major opposition parties — the Grand Democratic Alliance and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan.

Irrigation Minister Jam Khan Shoro, who tabled the resolution, said that the Sindh’s water share had continuously been cut by the Centre.

Speaking on the resolution, lawmakers of ruling Pakistan Peoples Party and opposition GDA and MQM-P expressed grave concerns over the construction of the two canals and demanded immediate halting of the process in the larger interest of the province’s people.

At the outset of the proceedings, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf members lodged a strong protest when Opposition Leader Haleem Adil Shaikh was not allowed by Deputy Speaker Rehana Leghari to speak before Question Hour.

PTI boycotts proceedings; MQM-P, GDA support govt resolution

The opposition members gathered in front of the Speaker’s rostrum, chanting anti-government slogans and tearing up copies of agenda as the chair repeatedly assured the agitating members that they would be allowed to speak after completion of the business.

And when the chair allowed the irrigation minister to move the resolution after completion of Question Hour, PTI lawmakers rose to protest against the move and then boycotted the proceedings, left the house and did not return.

Minister Shoro said that water dispute between Sindh and Punjab was 100-year old, recalling that commissions were established in 1937 and 1945 to settle the dispute. In 1991, another water accord was reached to which the PPP had severe reservations but it accepted it in the greater national interest, he said.

He said that the provincial government had taken up the matter of short supply of water to the province at the Council of Common Interest (CCI) and then the attorney general accepted the Sindh’s stance. “The sea has invaded 3.2 million acres of Sindh’s land. On the one hand, they (federal government) decry shortage of water, but on the other hand, it is establishing a new canal,” he deplored, adding that this was not acceptable to Sindh at any cost.

The resolution said: “This house expresses grave concerns over the construction of Jalalpur Canal and Chaubara Branch Canal Project Greater Thal Canal (Phase-II).”

It said that the Sindh Assembly in its sitting held in Feb 2003 and June 2003 had also passed the resolutions unanimously along with the opposition parties against the construction of Greater Thal Canal and termed its construction against the interests of the people of Sindh.

“In view of this situation, this house condemns this act of federal government in compliance to the Punjab government’s controversial projects despite the Sindh government forwarding their objections on legal grounds being against the constitutional provision under Water Apportionment Accord 1991 and the IRSA Act 1992. This House resolves that the process and construction of above project must be stopped immediately in the best interest of people of Sindh,” the resolution said.

MQM-P’s token walkout

MQM-P’s parliamentary party leader Kanwar Naveed Jameel said that his party fully supported the resolution but would also register its protest over ‘injustices’ being meted out to urban areas of the province.

He said that despite being a coalition partner in the federal government, the MQM-P had always stood by the Sindh government for the rights of the province.

He said that the Sindh government always talked about water share of the province but it didn’t increase even a drop of water for Karachi in the last 14 years. Mr Jameel said that provision of water was the prime responsibility of the provincial government yet the federal government was funding the K-IV water project.

“Despite your (Sindh government) injustices with urban areas, the MQM-P always supported the provincial government for its right,” he said before announcing a boycott of the proceedings against the ‘injustices’.

Sharjeel Inam Memon, who was presiding over the session, requested the MQM-P not to boycott the proceedings and suggested the government to hold a meeting to listen to the party’s grievances.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla assured that he along with other ministers Saeed Ghani and Nasir Hussain Shah would have a meeting with the MQM-P after which the latter staged only a token walkout and came back immediately.

PPP’s Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Imdad Pitafi, Riaz Hussain Sheerazi; MQM-P’s Muhammad Hussain Khan and GDA’s Nand Kumar also spoke on the resolution.

The house also adopted a unanimous resolution moved by Nand Kumar of the GDA to pay tribute to Baba Guru Nanak on his birthday.

The house was adjourned to Wednesday.

Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2021

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