Pakistan Peoples Party’s minister Jam Khan Shoro, with approval of the Sindh government, is relocating three hospital projects from areas in Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) constituency to his area. The schemes, which were originally planned for Latifabad taluka, will now be built in Qasimabad.
“We got these projects approved after a struggle of three-and-a-half years,” claimed former MQM’s MNA Tayyab Hussain, who was elected from Latifabad. “We are surprised at the way they [the schemes] are being taken away from our area.”
The hospital projects include a Rs597 million cardiology hospital, a Rs570 million paediatric hospital and a Rs404 million kidney centre as per the annual development plan (ADP). The Sindh government also allocated Rs20 million for each of the schemes in the budget 2013-14. Two locations in Latifabad’s Kohsar and Unit 6 areas were also identified for the hospitals.
Hussain told The Express Tribune that he pursued the federal government initially to fund these projects, saying that he did not even use his special funds with the intention of saving them for the hospitals. “The former prime minister had verbally approved them. But after the 18th Amendment, the health department was devolved to the provinces and we had to begin the whole exercise anew.”
The schemes were finally approved by the end of 2012 by the Sindh Chief Secretary Raja Abbas and, subsequently, the health department.
The district health officer Dr Ghulam Mustafa Abbasi confirmed the MQM’s stance that the projects were to be built according to the first PC-1 in Latifabad and even the budget allocation was made on the basis of PC-1. “But now we have submitted a revised PC-1 on the instructions of the health ministry. The projects have been located in Qasimabad.”
Shoro, who was elected from Qasimabad, received Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah’s consent for relocating the projects in August 2013. “I recommend the establishment of Kidney Center on main Jamshoro road or on Wadhu Wah road in Qasimabad. There is no government facility of Kidney Center in taluka Qasimabad,” reads Shoro’s letter, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune. “The scheme is reflected in the ADP and allocation has been made. It may be established in Qasimabad,” reads the chief minister’s note of approval.
Subsequently, the planning and development department along with the health department also geared in to implement the order. According to a source in the health ministry, the execution over the projects would have started by September but some technical hitches delayed it, which were later resolved by the revised PC-1.
According to Shoro, it wasn’t only the MQM but also the PPP’s leaders who tried to get approval for the hospital schemes under the previous government. “The budget was approved for three hospitals to be built in Hyderabad district so it would be wrong to say that Latifabad’s hospitals are being shifted to Qasimabad.”
He claimed that there was just one taluka hospital in Qasimabad and 14 in Latifabad. The district health department’s record, however, shows that Latifabad have three government hospitals.
For the MQM’s leaders, Shoro’s actions reflect discrimination. “If Shoro’s claim of pursuing the government for these projects is true, then he should have documents to prove himself. Does he have any PC-1 reports which he or other PPP leaders put forward?” questioned MPA Sabir Qaimkhani, adding that then when he raised this issue during the Sindh Assembly, Shoro retorted by saying, “Qasimabad is also in Sindh. Let some development take place there.”
MPA Sabir Qaimkhani said Shoro was increasing distances between the two communities, saying, “We are reviewing the technical and legal aspects as to how the projects can be shifted from one area to another after sanction of the budget.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2013.