The seventh Sindh Assembly session of the year kicked off with the MPAs debating global warming. MPA Humera Alwani claimed that more than 1.2 million acres of land in Thatta and Badin was under water.
She said that a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and water expert G N Abbasi showed that in the next 20 years, Thatta and Badin would be lost, if the government didn’t do anything now. The MPA added that every day nearly 80 acres in Thatta were eroded.
In the question-answer session, Muttahida Qaumi Movement MPA Heer Ismail Soho asked the assembly what the government planned to do. She said that acres of land had been lost because of the erosion and so far the government had done nothing. Although the Sindh environment minister was not there, he had sent a written reply. The minister said that yes, Thatta and Badin were vulnerable to erosion and in order to deal with the situation the government had come up with a scheme to assess the environmental issues in Sindh. An amount of Rs28 million was proposed for the cost. He said that they were still waiting for the funding from the World Bank.
MQM MPA Syed Sardar Ahmed responded on behalf of the environment minister and said that no comprehensive research had been carried out on the issue due to a lack of interest by previous governments. “No one has carried out a research or survey on this topic,” he said. “The department is under control of the federal government and was recently handed over to the provincial government.”
Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Dr Sikandar Mandhro said that a few organisations including the IUCN had done some research. Non-governmental organisations and the federal flood commission had also suggested remedies.
According to Ahmed, the said report was published in 1996 and after the 1999 cyclone the situation had changed in both districts.
PPP’s Ahmed Ali Shah said that this was happening because of water scarcity. “The fresh river water pushed the sea water back but now the situation has reversed,” he said “There are people forcing us to build the Kalabagh Dam and other mega projects on the river which can worsen the situation.”
Pakistan Muslim League-Function (PML-F) MPA Nusrat Seher Abbasi raised the issue of pollution. She asked the assembly if they knew the number of rickshaws on the road. Ahmed responded by saying that the ministry had started performing random checks on vehicles in 2010 and a total of 14,506 were examined out of which 2,350 were unfit to be on the road. He added that the four-stroke rickshaw was one of the major sources of pollution and many cases were pending with the Environmental Protection Tribunal against factories defying the laws.
MPA Heer Ismail Soho also raised the issue of Zulfiqarabad city in Thatta. “We want to know why the government has taken away our land,” she said. “We have no idea about the city which is being developed in our own constituency. Can anyone from the government brief us about it?”
People living along the coast believe that the land was allotted to them by the government in 1995. Revenue Minister Jam Mahab Dahar said that it was the government’s land not the people’s. He added that President Asif Ali Zardari wanted to build the mega city and some people had tampered with documents for 0.45 million acres of land. “We have looked into the issue and found out that there were 160 bogus entries,” he said. “After the documents were faked, the revenue offices were set on fire.”
The assembly unanimously passed a resolution to eradicate polio from the province. Sindh Information Minister Shazia Marri said that around 16 to 30 polio cases were reported in the province. MQM’s Ahmed said that the internal migration had caused an outbreak in the province. Speaker Nisar Khuhro said that so far 60 polio cases were reported in Balochistan, 20 in Sindh and two in Punjab.
MPA Nusrat Seher Abbasi drew the assembly’s attention towards the growing violence against women especially honour killings. While referring to the case of a woman identified as Bhagul Marfani in Shikarpur. She said that Bhagul and a man were killed on the pretext of karo kari a few days ago. She added that this month nearly 43 women were killed on the pretext of karo kari. Since January, the death toll has increased to 577.
MPA Munwar Ali Abbasi said kidnapping for ransom was also on the rise in Sindh. While referring to the Jacobabad incident, he said that criminals were now targeting doctors.
Salaries of elected representatives
As the some MPAs tried to table a motion to extend the deadline to submit their report to increase parliamentary salaries and other packages, others thumped their fists on the table and requested the speaker not to extend the deadlines. Khuhro asked Sindh Law Minister Ayaz Soomro and the chairman of the standing committee on law and parliamentary affairs, Bachal Shah, to extend the date.
The session was adjourned and will continue on Tuesday (today).
Published in The Express Tribune, December 20th, 2011.
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