ISLAMABAD, Aug 16: Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Babar Khan Ghouri on Wednesday said that the Karachi Port Trust Fountain, the world’s second largest, had been built by the government for the poor people of the country who could not afford to visit Switzerland for rest and recreation.

This statement came from the minister first on the floor of the National Assembly and later at the Parliament House cafeteria where he faced opposition’s criticism for constructing a costly fountain.

Taking part in the debate on the issue of the Pakistan Steel Mills privatisation, Khawaja Mohammad Asif of the PML-N said that while people did not have drinking water facility while the government had constructed a fountain at a cost of Rs320 million in Karachi.

He said the fountain, which was inaugurated with a big fanfare, had been closed for the past many months.

Replying to the point raised by Mr Asif, the ports and shipping minister said that at the time of the fountain’s inauguration, it was reported in the media that the fountain would remain closed from May 1 to Sept 1.

He said that it was the world’s second largest fountain that had been constructed for the poor people of the country who could not afford to travel to Switzerland. He said that a large number of people visited the fountain with their cameras to enjoy the evening.

Several opposition members, including Nabil Gabol of the People’s Party Parliamentarians, shouted at the minister and demanded that the speaker should allow them to speak. The speaker, however, did not allow any member to speak.

Later, Mr Gabol and Mr Ghouri came across each other at the Parliament House cafeteria, where again Mr Gabol protested over the minister’s statement and asked Mr Ghouri to launch water supply schemes in the city instead of building unnecessary fountains. He also asked the minister to set up a desalination plant benefiting the people of Karachi.

He said that the city government of Karachi should make arrangements to supply water to the people of Lyari.

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