The government has prepared a comprehensive case to fight for Sindh’s rights because the federal government has dropped its development projects from the upcoming Public Sector Development Programmes (PSDP).
Sewage treatment plants are among the projects that were excluded from the PSDP — a programme through which the federal government allocates budget for development schemes for the provinces.
Not one to accept the injustice, Sindh will take up the issue in the upcoming National Economic Council (NEC) meeting on May 28 in Islamabad. The NEC — chaired by the prime minister and with the chief ministers of the provinces as its members — reviews the overall economic condition of the country.
For its part Sindh Government has prepared a comprehensive case, which is likely to be presented by Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and his planning and development adviser, Dr Kaiser Bengali, at the NEC meeting.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Dr Bengali said that officials sitting in the federal government have never given priority to the development projects of Sindh. He assured that they would plead the case at the meeting and try to convince them to add these schemes.
“We will focus mainly on Makhi Farash Link Canal Project, which is supposed to provide water to the coalfield area in Thar,” he said. The estimated cost of the project is about Rs24 billion and it has to be completed by 2013, otherwise, it would not be possible for the government to generate electricity by 2016, he added. “It is completely funded by the federal government, which has to release the amount in different phases. We are not clear whether the funds are being allocated for it or not,” he said. Meanwhile, officials said that the Combined Effluent Treatment Plant, under which four plants were to be established in Karachi, is among the projects that were dropped. The Karachi Greater Sewerage Plan or S-III Project, which is supposed to treat the waste water of Lyari and Malir rivers before discharging it into the sea, the China Special Economic Zone and the Larkana SITE projects are all believed to have been dropped.
“The estimated cost of the combined treatment plants is around Rs7.3 billion and the federal government has to bear 50 per cent of it. Despite several reminders, the project has been excluded from the upcoming PSDP,” a senior government official told The Express Tribune.
According to him, the plants were to be installed in SITE, Korangi, Federal B Area and North Karachi to treat the industrial waste. Initially, there was a dispute between the city government and the ministry of industries on the execution of the project since they both wanted to carry it out. Later, it was decided that the projects would be supervised by the city government, SITE and the industries department, he added.
“We have been receiving orders every month from the Supreme Court to speed up the process and install treatment plants in industrial zones but the federal government officials are not listening.”
Referring to the Karachi Greater Sewerage Plan, the officer said that, “the executive committee of the NEC, which approves development projects, has already given its consent”. He added that the president also told the officials to include it in the upcoming budget. “The federal government, the Karachi Port Trust and the Sindh government are supposed to share 33 pre cent of the project’s cost,” he clarified. For the Pakistan-China Special Economic Zone and Larkana SITE, the government has allotted 300 acres and 500 acres, respectively.
Referring to the provincial budget, Dr Bengali said that the government has yet to decide the total outlay of the budget. “We convened a meeting at CM House on Tuesday but we could not finalise the total allocation for development and non-development schemes,” he said. “We have made different proposals and we will be in a better position to inform you once the centre gives its word that it will release funds for the next fiscal year and our share in the divisible poll.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2011.