KARACHI: Just days after a government-appointed judicial commission submitted its findings on the controversial Tori Bund breach, Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah has ordered yet another committee to investigate.
The CM had formed the judicial commission with Justice (retired) Zahid Qurban Alvi and Justice (retired) Ghulam Nabi Soomro who found that the breaches were natural. At a press conference at Chief Minister House on Wednesday, Shah informed the media that a new committee would now be formed to investigate the breaches in the Tori and MS dykes in the light of the judicial commission’s report. Until it wraps up, 10 to 14 irrigation employees, including the man in charge of Tori Bund and his entire staff, would remain suspended and the chief engineer would stand transferred as punishment.
Interestingly, the chief minister, irrigation minister and irrigation secretary could not tell the media about the exact number or the names of the irrigation employees who would be suspended.
The chief minister said that when the judicial commission had sent its report to him, he had sent it to the home secretary who had just returned it. The judicial commission’s report was based on the observations of its members, who had visited Sukkur, Thatta and other areas.
According to the report, the breaches were not engineered but the dykes broke due to the excessive pressure of the floodwaters. The report mentions that there was some negligence on the part of the irrigation employees deployed at the Tori Bund, and that they should voluntarily resign. Shah added that though the report suggested resignations, he had ordered for them to be suspended instead until the new committee files its report.
The report also said that the Tori and MS bunds were very weak because they had not been repaired or maintained for a long time. The commission recommended that the embankments should be upgraded and looked after as specificed by the irrigation manual.
To a question, the CM said that the Indus River Commission was also responsible for the vulnerable condition of the dykes and that he would speak to the federal government about this.
To a question on whether suspending a few employees did justice to the millions of displaced people, the CM replied that there were many issues they could deal with but they preferred to avoid them because of the “reconciliation policy” of the sitting government. Further action could be taken after the new committee submits its report.
The CM did, however, praise the former secretary of irrigation Shuja Junejo and called him a “competent officer”.
Irrigation minister Jam Saifullah Dharejo, adviser Sharmila Farooqui, chief secretary Ghulam Ali Shah Pasha, information secretary Syed Mumtaz Ali Shah, special assistant Waqar Mehdi were present at the press conference.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 9th, 2010.
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