KARACHI: Of all minority groups in Sindh, the Hindu community is the largest. It thus stands to reason that the community receives the lion’s share of budget funds allocated for minority affairs, however, the other minority groups in the province are unsatisfied with the lack of attention given to them by the government.
The Annual Development Programme (ADP) for minority affairs in the Sindh Budget 2018-19 lacks a single scheme relating to worship places of the Christian or Zoroastrian communities. Of the 28 ongoing schemes for which Rs1.5 billion has been allocated, 26 relate to infrastructure development for the Hindu community and one scheme each has been added for the Jain and Sikh communities.
No new scheme has been included by the government for the 2018-19 financial year, as is the case with most sectors. According to the budget document, all the ongoing schemes will be completed by June 2019 as complete budgetary allocations have been made for everything except the Sadh Bello temple in Sukkur.
Minority rights activists Ramesh Singh Khalsa told The Express Tribune that, “In Sindh all religions other than Hinduism are minorities within minorities, since members from the Hindu community are ministers most of the time.”
According to him, the minority department belongs to everyone and not just to those following the Hindu religion. He said that the repair, renovation, reconstruction, uplift and expansion of religious places of the Sikh, Christian and Zoroastrian communities have been neglected in the ADP for years.
Being one of the 18 members of the Sindh Non-Muslim Welfare Committee for Development, I have given a recommendation in writing for the renovation of gurdawaras but not a single gurdawara has been included in the ADP, he lamented. However, Khalsa said the construction of the Guru Nanak Temple in Gadap has been included in the ADP for at least three years now.
Currently, the budget allocated for the construction of the Guru Nanak Temple is Rs9.37 million for 2018-19. The estimated cost of the scheme was Rs10 million and it was approved this January. The scheme is supposed to be completed by June 2019.
Among other schemes in the minority sector for non-Hindu communities is the construction of the Jain Dharam Mandir in Godi village, Nagarparkar taluka in Tharparkar at an estimated cost of Rs50 million. The entire thrown forward amount, Rs46.87 million, has been allocated for the upcoming financial year.
A major chunk of the ADP funds have been allocated for the consolidation and rehabilitation of Sadh Bello Sukkur. The amount allocated for the temple’s rehabilitation scheme is Rs371 million and the total estimated cost of the scheme is Rs1.36 billion. It was approved in 2017. With this allocation, it is expected that the scheme would have progressed 79% by June 2019.
The construction of the Shera Wali Mandir in Makli has been allocated Rs9.37 million. The scheme was approved in 2018 at an estimated cost of Rs10 million.
The renovation and construction of Dharmsala and renovation and reconstruction of Shamshan Ghat in Larkana have been allocated Rs9.37 million and Rs11.20 million respectively. The estimated costs of both projects are Rs10 million and Rs14.93 million and both were approved in 2018.
The repair and reconstruction of Gaushalla in Larkana has been allocated Rs9.37 million and its total estimated cost is Rs12.49 million. The scheme was approved in 2017.
The budget allocation for the provision of marble flooring of SSD Dham Daharki Sahib Darbar is Rs19.98 million. Although the scheme was approved in 2015 at a cost of Rs19.98 million, no funds have been spent on the project so far.