HYDERABAD: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has identified contaminated water, sea intrusion and destruction of Pakistan's biggest freshwater reservoir, Manchar Lake, as three grave water-related challenges for the province.
Speaking at the convocation of US-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Water (USPCAS-W) at Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET) in Jamshoro district on Friday, he requested the academia to submit a set of holistic recommendations to address the challenges. He also spoke to the media.
He said that the country faces very serious water and environmental problems. "The Sindh government needs [the experts'] recommendations to work out the issues of clean drinking water, shortage of water and irrigation related problems," he added.
Sindh determined to resolve contaminated water issue
While congratulating the graduates who completed their Master of Science degree at USPCAS-W, he asked them to realise their responsibility of conducting further research and suggesting solutions to problems. He said that the provincial government will provide funds for the centre and acknowledge its research endeavours.
Criticising the federal government, Shah said if the Centre is unable to collect taxes it should hand over that responsibility to the provinces. He said that the share of the provinces in the federally collected taxes is 57.5% and if the collection remained low, the provinces will receive less consequently.
He reiterated that the withheld funds of Sindh, which amount to over Rs100 billion, have been affecting several development projects. "The situation in other provinces is also not different. Punjab spent Rs245 billion on development schemes last year and this year the allocation has plummeted to Rs87 billion." He contended that the federal government's inability in the tax collection besides inflation and the drop in value of rupee is the root cause of many problems.
He warned that the charity organisations and projects are also likely to suffer from the prevailing financial situation in the country because the well-off people have reduced funding projects. "This may pave way for a new crisis," he cautioned while pointing out that the National Institute of Child Health (NICH), which was being successfully run through charity, is now seeking the provincial government's financial help.
Sindh lawmakers accuse Centre of unequal water distribution
The US Consul-General JoAnne Wagner expressed hope that the graduates can help Pakistan in dealing with the challenges of climate change and water related issues. She said that USPCAS-W was being funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under a $127 million project for setting up and financing research centres in Pakistani universities. The centres conduct research on water, energy, agriculture and food security.
MUET Vice Chancellor Dr Muhammad Aslman Uqaili informed that USAID's funding will end in 2019. He requested the federal and provincial governments, in addition to USAID, to provide funds for the centre for the coming years. "The centre is helping produce research scholars who follow the international standards of research".
Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2019.