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LAHORE: Cheema 'beats about the bush'

June 05, 2004


LAHORE, June 4: Punjab Irrigation Minister Amir Sultan Cheema faced a tough time in the Punjab Assembly on Friday when he was asked to explain what action his department had taken against the management of the Sadiqabad Military Farms for its alleged illegal actions.

The military farms' management is alleged to have illegally widened four watercourses and constructed a fifth one. MMA's Syed Ehsanullah Waqas posed this question after claiming that the management of military farms at Chak 152-P, 157-P and 158-P had illegally widened four watercourses -- RD-47498, 51870/L, RD-8287/L and RD-6109/L, besides digged another. He added that the farms had also not paid Rs2.4 million abyana (water cess).

He said when the department's employees reached there to take action, they were beaten up and held hostage for some time. The minister tried to avoid a direct answer to the query, which provoked the mover, who along with the other members of the opposition criticized him.

PML-N's Rana Sanaullah sought an answer to the question that how much recovery had been made from the military farms. The minister claimed that the military farms had been issued bills of Rs5 million and the revenue department was responsible for its recovery.

In response to a question posed by Fazal Ahmad Ranjha that why the farmers were illegally charged for water from non-perennial canals, the minister could not satisfy the house.

He, however, tried to justify the government's rotational plan and claimed it did not affect seasonal crops. Meanwhile, he hoped that with the lining of canals the country would save more water that could help the tail-end areas.