‘Centre unwilling to help with locusts’

Rahoo warns loss of crops could prove disastrous for provincial, national economy

​ Our Correspondent May 05, 2020

KARACHI: No help has been provided despite the Sindh government's repeated requests to the federal government for aerial spraying to protect crops against the looming locust swarms, claimed Sindh Agriculture Minister Muhammad Ismail Rahoo during a press conference on Monday.

Asserting that the Centre was not taking the issue seriously, Rahoo pointed out that millions of acres of crops in the province were at risk, which could prove to be detrimental not only to Sindh but the country as a whole. "This is an emergency situation that needs immediate attention," he added.

He further stated that a meeting in this regard, headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan, had led to the agreement that pesticide spraying would begin in Sindh from April 1, but to no avail.

He added that the Sindh government was ready to pay for fuel for the aircrafts being used for spraying, but none had been provided to them so far.

He further implored the federal government to immediately provide aircrafts for at least three desert districts.

Meanwhile, Sindh Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, who was also present at the press conference, added that the federal government would only be able to do something productive if it overcomes its habit of blaming others.

Rahoo, however, thanked the Pakistan Army for supporting the Sindh government in its efforts to eradicate locusts from the province.

'Unjustifiable criticism'

Meanwhile, Shah also addressed the negative publicity surrounding the Sindh government's lockdown during the press conference, stating that the federal government and the media had been 'unjustifiably' criticising the Sindh government.

He maintained that despite these 'baseless' claims, the provincial government would continue to do what is necessary to save people's lives.

Shah further pointed out that in a meeting on April 24, it had been Federal Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Minister Asad Umar who had announced that the country-wide lockdown would remain intact until May 9. However, now Umar was framing the situation to make it seem as if the people of Sindh have been facing worse hardships during the lockdown, Shah added.

He went on to state that attempts were being made on mainstream and social media to discredit the Sindh government through false allegations regarding the distribution of rations and collection of bribes from the business community.

Shah asserted that since the federal government was not able to deliver on its promises, it was trying to deter the Sindh government through an 'organised conspiracy.'

Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2020.


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