KARACHI: Rejecting the Sindh Commission for Regularisation of Construction Ordinance, Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh on Thursday described the ordinance as an attempt to legalise land grabbing and forgeries by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government.
Addressing a press conference at the Sindh Assembly building, he said that around 3.9 million acres of state land was under illegal occupation in the province and the PPP government was aiming to legalise all encroachments and counterfeit documentation on so-called “humanitarian grounds” amid the situation arising out of the judiciary’s order for the demolition of Nasla Tower and removal of encroachments along the Gujjar Nullah.
“If the ordinance is aimed at compensating the affected families of Nasla Tower, Gujjar Nullah or Orangi Nullah and people living in katchi abadis, then it must be specified in the draft ordinance,” he said.
Accusing the Sindh government of having ill-intentions, he said that “it is obvious from the terms of composition of the proposed commission that it would be headed by a retired judge and it might include Murtaza Wahab and a representative of the Association of Builders and Developers (Abad)”. He said stakeholders and parliamentary parties should be taken into confidence on the legislation as per democratic norms.
He also suggested that the proposed commission should be notified by the chief justice of Pakistan after detailed consultation with opposition. The commission, he said, must be chaired by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court as case of illegal construction and land grabbing in Sindh was being heard by Supreme Court, he argued.
“If reservations of opposition are not removed, we will challenge the ordinance in the court as this draft ordinance will bring Sindh Assembly, political system, executive and governor of Sindh in confrontation with judiciary,” added Mr Sheikh.
He also took exception to Sindh Local Government Amendment Bill 2021, calling it a clear violation of the Constitution of Pakistan and the spirit of devolution of powers to grassroots level and announced that he would challenge the bill in higher courts as well.
The Articles 7, 8, 32 and 140-A of the Constitution, he said, called for empowerment of local government institutions and transferring education, health, civic services and other basic functions and responsibilities to third tier of governance.
“On the contrary, the local government bodies are deprived of all their basic functions and responsibilities and they are left only to manage public toilets,” he added.
“The amendment bill would bring primary healthcare, including Sobhraj Hospital and Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, Leprosy Centre, Sarfraz Rafiqui Shagheed Centre, Karachi Medical and Dental College, Infectious Disease Department and many educational institutions under control of the Sindh government.”
Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2021