KARACHI: The Sindh and federal government are embroiled in Pakistan Steel Mills' land row once again. They have now come at loggerheads after the steel mill authorities wrote a letter to the federal government, complaining against encroachments and sale of its land by Sindh government to the Higher Education Commission.
"Please help us recover the land from Sindh government," said chief financial officer of the mill in a letter addressed to the privatisation commission of Pakistan.
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"The provincial government is the actual owner of this land and it would never give its precious land for the proposed recovery of Pakistan Steel Mill," said Chief Minister (CM) Murad Ali Shah. He added that the land belongs to the people of Sindh. "We can approach the court if the federal government insists on transferring the land to someone under a liability settlement programme to adjust the outstanding dues of the mill," Shah said, while giving instructions to Chief Secretary Rizwan Memon. He asked Memon to write a letter to the federal government stating that the land of Pakistan Steel Mills belonged to the provincial government.
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"We would never allow its [land] doling out to settle the liabilities of the mill which are said to be around Rs65 billion," he explained.
The CM said that the federal government has failed to run Pakistan Steel Mills, which is a national asset, adding that it has the potential to become a profit-making organisation but needs political will and a clear business plan.
The seriousness of the federal government to run the mills can be gauged from the fact that it has no chief operating officer from the last one year. "Everything is functioning there on an ad hoc basis and the policies and its plans are being worked out by those who have no official authority," Shah claimed.
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The CM said that the provincial government had given the land to the federal government to establish a steel mill complex in the 1970s. "The federal government has failed to run the mill professionally, therefore, it has set its eye on its land which does not belong to them," said Shah.
He said that the Sindh government would never allow any bank or corporation to take an inch from the land of the mill.
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The chief minister claimed that the provincial government had its own plans to utilise the land available there. "We are going to establish new industrial units, power plants and other establishments," he said and directed the chief secretary to start correspondence with the federal government. He added that the liabilities and issues the mill faces are due to the federal government's failed policies. "We have sympathy for the employees of the steel mill who have not been paid salaries since the last five months and we would raise our voice in their support," he said.