Setting aside their differences, all the lawmakers in the Sindh Assembly demanded on Monday to register an FIR for the 150 deaths in Karachi against the K-Electric over its failure to supply uninterrupted power during the recent heatwave. The death toll had crossed 300 by the end of the day.
Meanwhile, Sindh has once again requested the central government to relinquish the administrative control of the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco) and its Sukkur counterpart to the provincial government.
As the session started with speaker Agha Siraj Durrani in the chair, the incompetency of the K-Electric was the main topic of discussion. “The customer service centres were reluctant to attend the distressed phone calls,” said the opposition leader, Khawaja Izharul Hassan. “Even if they did attend the phone, the teams failed to rectify the faults. The provincial government should summon the K-Electric management for negligence. “
The heatwave and power breakdowns dominated the proceedings until the speaker adjourned the post-budget session until Tuesday (today).
MQM MPA from Hyderabad, Rana Ansar, questioned the efficiency of the health department in view of its failure to make adequate arrangements for heatstroke patients. Health minister Jam Mahtab Dahar said they had already declared emergency at all public hospitals. “These deaths are due to the outbreak of gastroenteritis and related diseases and no hospital lacks medicines or other basic facilities.”
Finance minister Murad Ali Shah said he had personally called the CEO of K-Electric, who had assured to resolve the issue as soon as possible. “We will again take up the matter of the hours-long power breakdowns with the prime minister,” said Shah, adding that only 2,600 megawatts were being supplied to Karachi against its demand of 3,100 MW.
Education minister Nisar Khuhro said that the PPP, on the directives of Benazir Bhutto, had opposed the privatisation of the power utility. “Not only an FIR should be registered against the K-Electric, they should be made to give compensation to the victims’ families.”
War of words
A war of words broke out in the assembly after the speaker gave the floor to PPP MPA Javeed Nagori to speak on the budget. Instead of focusing on the budget, however, Nagori criticised the MQM members for their version of rendering sacrifices for Pakistan. “Not just the Urdu-speaking people, Punjabi families living on the other side of the border also sacrificed their lives,” he said. “After migration, the Punjabis adopted Pakistani culture, owned the country and never demanded a separate province for themselves unlike the Urdu-speaking people who are staging a drama by dislodging the indigenous Sindhis who gave them shelter,” he said.
The MQM and other parties have always neglected Lyari and the Baloch and Sindhi-dominated areas in Karachi.
As Nagori lashed out against the MQM, the latter’s members stood up on their seats and protested against his speech. “This reflects a biased approach towards the Muhajirs,” said MQM MPA Mohammad Hussain.
Some PPP members, including Sharjeel Inam Memon and Dr Sohrab Sarki also went to Nagroi’s seat and requested him to wind up his speech. The PPP MPA from Lyari, however, refused to relent. “You are all talking about the power crises in Karachi. I say these people are the main reason for today’s situation because they supported the privatisation of KESC in General Musharraf’s tenure,” he argued.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2015.
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