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KARACHI, May 7: Sindh Industries Minister Rauf Siddiqui said on Monday that a large number of plots in industrial areas of the province were still vacant though some of these estates had been established over 20 years ago.

One of the reasons for the unfilled space could be purchase of the plots by investors, property speculators or brokers for profits instead of industrialists who would have established factories there over the years, said the Muttahida Qaumi Movement minister during the question hour in the assembly.

The order of the day contained eight questions pertaining to the industries department. Five of these questions were asked by Pakistan Muslim League (Functional) lawmaker Nusrat Bano Seher Abbasi and the three others by MQM legislator Zareen Majeed.

Interestingly, both the lawmakers were not present in the house when the questions were taken up.

In reply to a written question regarding the Small Industrial Estate, located on the Northern Bypass, the minister said that almost 90 per cent work on the scheme had been completed. He said that water would also be supplied to the estate soon after the approval of its summary by the chief minister.

Responding to a supplementary question by Pakistan People’s Party legislator Kulsoom Chandio regarding plots allotted to women, he said that out of over 800 plots in the scheme, over 200 plots had been allotted to women. However, he said, an overwhelming majority of them did not turn up after the allotment. If they did not immediately come to complete the formalities, the allotment would be cancelled soon so that the plots could be allotted to other deserving people, he added.

In reply to another question, Mr Siddiqui said that the Board of Revenue had allotted 300 acres for the establishment of an industrial estate. He said a payment in this regard had been made in 2006-2007 but development work on the land was later stopped over some dispute. He added that efforts were being made to settle the dispute by getting the land or an alternative piece of land so that plots could be allotted to people interested in establishing the industries.

The minister said that over 190 plots had been demarcated on the land but their number might change if plots size was adjusted to suit the requirement of industrialists.

In response to yet another question, he said that soon sufficient water would reach the Nooriabad industrial estate, located on the superhighway after which the scheme established in the mid-1980s would, hopefully, become a success.

Regarding the establishment of development and management companies for industrial areas, he said that no such company had been established for the estates in Sukkur and Kotri so far.

He said that development funds had not yet been released for these estates, because the development funds for these estates could be released only to the companies. He also said that a company established for the industrial estate in Nawabshah had hardly done any work.