Chaos in PA over city’s water woes

House passes evacuee trust properties law amid PTI, MQM-P protest


Hafeez Tunio June 05, 2021

KARACHI:

Amid a chaotic session on Friday as opposition lawmakers protested the water shortage in Karachi, the Sindh Assembly passed The Sindh Evacuee Trust Properties (Management and Disposal) Act 2019, for "the management and control of evacuee properties attached to charitable, religious or educational trust or institution in the province of Sindh."

When the bill was introduced in 2019, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan lawmakers objected over the provincial control of evacuee trust properties and the related board.

However, the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party argued that after the passage of the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the subject was devolved to the provinces. The decision though had been pending for years.

On Friday, the bill was passed after review from the Standing Committee on Law, Parliamentary Affairs, and Human Rights and without the support of PTI and MQM-P lawmakers.

"After the enactment of the bill, a board, namely, the Sindh Evacuee Trust Property Board would be established," Sindh Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla, who had moved the bill, explained briefly. According to the statement of objects of the bill, "evacuee property trust" falls under provincial domain after the 18th Amendment and the provincial assembly is competent to enact the law.

Opposition protest

The house witnessed yet another stormy session as PTI and MQM-P lawmakers protested Karachi's water woes.

The ruckus compelled Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani to suspend the session twice. First, briefly for 10 minutes, and then when the uproar continued, he adjourned the session till Monday. The chaos began at the very outset of the session when MQM-P's Muhammad Hussain stood up and said he wished to speak.

Durrani, however, did not permit this, reminding Hussain that the agenda had to be completed first. This prompted PTI and MQM-P lawmakers to brandish placards with colourful slogans in the house and hurl allegations of water theft against the PPP-led Sindh government.

"[The] business of the house is also very important. I am assuring you...you will be given the floor," interjected Durrani, in a bid to quieten the protestors. The attempt fell on deaf ears, however, and "Karachi ko paani do [Give Karachi water]" and "Pani chor pani chor Sindh hukumat pani chor [Sindh government steals water]" echoed in the house.

PTI and MQM-P lawmakers, led by Opposition Leader Haleem Adil Shaikh and Hussain, respectively, marched up to the speaker's podium and continued their protest till the session was adjourned.

"The people of Karachi are dying of water shortage. This is all because of the PPP government's mismanagement," claimed Haleem. Exam schedules Earlier, during the question and answers sessions and the call attention notices, Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani informed the house that the province was following the decisions of the federal education minister regarding matric and intermediate exams.

The provincial government will soon release its schedule, he said.

However, he added, "This depends on the Covid situation. We can re-consider the schedule if the situation gets worse".

The protesting members of the house did not raise questions or call attention notices and those raised by the PPP lawmakers were responded to by the parliamentary secretary.

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