ISLAMABAD: A report prepared by the parliamentary commission on new provinces in Punjab was presented in the National Assembly on Friday.
The report also contained the draft Twenty-fourth Constitutional Amendment Bill 2013. It suggested that there be only one new province, of which the capital would be Bahawalpur. It added that the new province should be named Bahawalpur Janoobi Punjab.
The commission recommended that the new province should receive almost 30 per cent of Punjab’s National Finance Commission (NFC) award. It also stated that Bahawalpur Janoobi Punjab would consists of the Multan, Bahawalpur and Dera Ghazi Khan divisions as well as Mianwali and Bhakkar districts.
The proposed bill is now subject to passage by the National Assembly, Senate and Punjab Assembly with at least two-thirds of a majority before it can be given presidential consent.
The bill proposes nine amendments to the Constitution in order for the new province to come into place.
The commission on new provinces observed that while the South Punjab region had the right to 30 per cent representation in the federal civil bureaucracy, it was only receiving between 12 and 15 per cent. It pointed out in its report as an example that in three important civil service groups, Rawalpindi had 146 officers, Gujranwala had 149 and Lahore had 338. However, the three divisions of South Punjab only had 157 officers to their name.
The commission opposed the restoration of Bahawalpur province, justifying this move by saying it would give rise to a demand for the restoration of Khairpur, Swat, and several other regions as provinces.
According to the report, the new province would be highly self-sufficient: The region produces 84 per cent of Punjab’s cotton crop, 41 per cent of the wheat crop and 36 per cent of the sugar.
In addition, it contains 85 per cent of Punjab’s ginning cotton factories, 40 per cent of the flour mills, 30 per cent of the sugar mills and 25 per cent of the fertiliser manufacturing units.
As far as the issue of water allocation is concerned, the commission suggests that the issue be resolved through the Council of Common Interest (CCI).
The report adds that if need be, new provinces should be formed on grounds of public demand or to fulfill administrative requirements
While the report has been unanimously adopted by the commission, it was accompanied by a note from Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) lawmaker Farooq Sattar. Sattar calls for an amendment to Article 239 of the Constitution and abolishing the authority of provincial assemblies to adopt resolutions in this regard.
Other who added their notes include Senators Haji Adeel, Kamil Ali Agha and Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, along with MNA Arif Aziz Sheikh.