The actual purpose of the Kalabagh Dam is to irrigate the nearly two million acres that belong to retired army generals, said Sindh Minister for Culture Sassui Palijo while defending the province’s stance on the controversial dam.
Speaking at the Sindh Assembly session on Wednesday, Palijo said that legislators of Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) call those who oppose the dam “Indian agents” even though three assemblies in the country have objected to Kalabagh Dam.
“I think it is not the policy of an individual but it is their party’s policy, Palijo said, “These people oppose the dictators now but are themselves creation of Ziaul Haq and they even supported the Hudood Ordinance.”
The Sindh Assembly session started at 12 pm with Speaker Sindh Assembly Nisar Khuhro in the chair.
Keti Bunder Scheme
According to deputy speaker Sindh Assembly Shehla Raza, the Keti Bunder scheme in Thatta was abandoned by those people who did not want to see Sindh prosper. The same people postponed the Thar Coal Project because it was in Sindh, she said during her budget speech at the session on Wednesday.
“If the Keti Bunder scheme, initiated by Benazir Bhutto, had continued then we could have supplied surplus electricity to India and other neighbouring countries,” Raza said.
Raza insisted that the people who delayed the scheme should be kept on strict vigil because the scheme has resumed and many international investors are willing to invest in Thar coal. “The area will become an industrial zone and thousands of people will benefit from it,” she added.
Meanwhile, Sindh Minister for Environment and Alternate Energy Shaikh Muhammad Afzal said that the funds of his ministry are being overstepped by other departments. He complained that the government is not taking the ministry into confidence before signing contracts with international donors on environment and alternate energy.
The world is focusing on protecting the environment but the schemes that our department proposed have been excluded from the Annual Development Plan for the coming year, Afzal said, adding that Rs5million were allocated for alternative energy schemes in the past year but the Keti Bunder scheme was delayed.
The authorities decided to allocate more funds this year but only Rs100 million were announced for this project, he said disappointingly.
Wind and solar pumping schemes have been handed over to the agriculture department and they are short on staff in the department with only 16 environment inspectors working, Afzal said, adding that eight of them are in Karachi and four each in Hyderabad and Sukkur.
Neglected areas of Sindh
Around 2,300 goths in Thar have been neglected in the budget, said Abdul Razzaq Rahmo of Pakistan Muslim League - Quaid.
The government allocated a lot of money for education and health sectors but a majority of schools and health centres are closed, he said.
Minister for Law Ayaz Soomro pointed out that the previous government had neglected Pakistan People’s Party-dominated areas and not a single job was provided to people in the province, adding that the present government has provided 50,000 jobs and restored 26,000 sacked employees.
Minister for Fisheries Zahid Burgri announced that housing schemes will be launched in different fishing villages and jetties will also be established for them.
Journalist’s boycott assembly session
All journalists present in the press gallery boycotted the session for at least 30 minutes. They were protesting the attack on a few Thatta-based journalists allegedly by Sakro police because they publicised a news item blaming the police for being involved with the gutka mafia.
Palijo, Burgri and Minister for katchi abadis Rafique Engineer assured the journalists that the culprits will be caught and invited the media back into the hall.
SHO Sakro police station and the ASI in District Thatta have been suspended, following the boycott.
The session was adjourned till Thursday at 9:30 am.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2010.
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