KARACHI: Ministers praised Sindh government’s efforts towards draining out rainwater during the spells of record rains across the province whereas opposition lawmakers belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) bitterly criticised it over its ‘failure’ in clearing accumulated rainwater in the urban as well rural areas as debate on weather-related issues resumed in the Sindh Assembly on Thursday.
GDA’s Arif Mustafa Jatoi, speaking on a call attention notice, demanded the provincial government to announce compensation for the farmers who incurred heavy financial losses after their crops were devastated due to heavy monsoon rains.
He said that the civic infrastructure of urban areas had collapsed piling miseries on people, while agricultural land of poor farmers had been flooded destroying all crops and causing huge financial losses. He apprehended that the loss of crops could lead to a severe food crisis in the country.
The GDA lawmaker also showed pictures of many main roads submerged in interior parts of the province and asked what steps were being taken to drain out the accumulated rainwater.
Ministers claim better performance during current spell of record rains; pledge compensation to farmers
Mr Jatoi also asked the relevant minister as to what steps the provincial government was taking to provide relief to the poor farmers who had suffered huge financial losses after their crops were destroyed in the recent rains.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawala said that the provincial government would ensure that the affected farmers got compensation. “We will talk to the federal government too in this regard and the matter of tax exemption for the affected farmers will also be taken up,” he assured Mr Jatoi.
He said that the province had received record 600mm to 700mm rains during the two heavy spells of monsoon over the last 25 to 27 days. “The chief minister and his cabinet members along with administration officers remained in field to ensure early draining of rainwater that had submerged different arteries and roads,” he said, adding that the work continued day and night to drain out the rainwater.
Another opposition member Riaz Haider of PTI also lambasted the provincial government over its ‘inefficiency’ during the recent spells of monsoon rains.
He referred to the Shadman nullah incident that claimed the life of a woman and her infant, and said that he had been raising the issue of nullahs overflowing for the last four years but to no avail.
The PTI MPA from PS-130 said that the civic infrastructure in his constituency had been in worst condition and deteriorated after the heavy monsoon rains, which was evident from the nullah incident. “Authorities have not taken any steps for the uplift of the area,” he lamented.
In his reply, Parliamentary Secretary for Local Government Saleem Baloch said that the Shadman nullah passed through the Mewashah graveyard and this passage was closed down and the work on its diversion was in progress at two different sites.
He said that rainwater would be drained out smoothly through the nullah after its diversion and it would be connected with Gujjar nullah.
Earlier, speaking on a point of order, PTI’s Parliamentary Party Leader Khurram Sherzman said that the rain water was still there in almost every part of the city even after two days of rains. He said that people were facing a great deal of hardship due to submerged roads and streets. “The entire city has submerged and the authorities are doing nothing,” he deplored.
Responding to the PTI member’s claims, Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Hussian Shah said that the provincial government carried out round-the-clock operations to drain out rainwater in every part of the city.
He tendered apology to the people for facing hardships during the recent rains and claimed that rainwater was drained out successfully within a few hours of rainfall in those areas where in the past rainwater would accumulate and stayed for days.
During the Question Hour, Social Welfare Minister Muhammad Sajid Jokhio had to cut a sorry figure when PTI’s Rabia Azfar Nizamani pointed out that six out of seven starred assembly questions on the agenda did not pertain to the social welfare department.
Deputy Speaker Rehana Leghari adjourned the house to Friday.
Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2022