PA resolution warns Center of protest against persistent gas shortage in Sindh

KARACHI: The Sindh legislature on Saturday passed a resolution, unanimously expressing its immense displeasure over the reduced gas supply to Sindh, warning Islamabad to end the “unconstitutional” gas load-shedding, or face a protest to be launched by everyone living in the province.

The legislature also unanimously passed The Sindh Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases Bill, 2018 with the aim to widen the facilities to cure heart diseases across the province.

A joint resolution was moved by Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Mohammad Hussain, Sindh Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani and Grand Democratic Alliance’s Nand Kumar, expressing concern over the prolonged gas shortages across Sindh that had gravely impacted the province’s economy, industries and homes.

The resolution reads: “This house resolves and recommends to the Government of Sindh to approach [the] federal government to take notice of violation of Article 158 of the Constitution by the Federal Ministry. Due to the shortage of gas the domestic, as well as commercial consumers, are facing a lot of difficulties in the province of Sindh.”

It further stated that the department concerned “shall within a period of one month from the date of communication of the resolution by the assembly secretariat”, apprise the assembly of the action taken on the resolution as required under the Rules of Procedure of the Sindh Assembly.

CCI meeting

The speakers demanded that a meeting of the Council of Common Interest (CCI) urgently be called to address the issue and provide relief to the people of Sindh.

The resolution expressed deep concern over the incessant gas outages across the province, which is the largest contributor to nationwide gas production.

Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said the issue of adequate gas supply to Sindh had been raised in the meetings of the CCI previously and his government was in touch with Islamabad to make sure that the people of Sindh should not suffer because of such outages.

He referred to a previous meeting of the CCI, in March last year during the previous federal government, in which the attorney general had been appointed to recommend a comprehensive policy on the gas supply issue as raised by his government.

He said the Sindh government had sent its comments to the AG in a timely manner while none of the other provincial governments did that at which they had been asked to send their comments within a month or they would be deemed in agreement with the policy.

Mr Shah said the then chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf had supported Sindh’s stance. He said apart from him with KP CM’s support, there were three other members who belonged to Sindh and could back his government’s stand. He hoped Balochistan would also be there to support Sindh.

He appreciated the opposition for moving the resolution and backing him. He said he would use that support to ask Islamabad to convene an urgent meeting of the CCI to discuss the issue.

He said he hoped the federal government would give its due right to Sindh, adding that he had met the federal ministers for petroleum and power and other top officials from Islamabad who had accepted his argument on the matter.

He said he hoped that the federal government would give its nod for the wind corridor project.

Sindh opposition’s top priority

Opposition leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi said that despite representing the PTI, which ruled Islamabad, Sindh was their top priority.

He said gas wells were getting depleted, warranting new explorations.

PTI’s parliamentary leader Haleem Adil Shaikh said his party had supported the resolution as it would not leave the people of Sindh in the lurch.

Minister Ghani referred to the Constitution saying it clearly accepted the first right for the use of gas by the province where it was produced.

MQM-P’s Khwaja Izharul Hasan said the gas issue had persisted for a few years as it had forced the K-Electric to shut down its gas-powered plants. He asked the chief minister if Sindh was getting its gas royalty share.

GDA’s Nand Kumar said no gas was being provided to the areas where gas was being produced.

Ghulam Qadir Chandio, Heer Soho and Abdul Rasheed also spoke.

Sindh Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases

Earlier, the select committee presented its report on The Sindh Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases Bill, 2018, saying it had approved it after making minor corrections and amendments under different clauses and found it fit to be passed by the assembly.

Later, Health Minister Azra Pechuho presented the bill clause by clause and the house passed it unanimously.

Its statement of objects and reasons said: “At present, there is only one cardiovascular hospital in Sindh namely National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases located in Karachi which does not cover all the patients coming from the entire province of Sindh due to heavy load of patients.”

It further said that to facilitate poor cardiac patients of the province by providing quality care and to enhance the teaching skills of undergraduates and postgraduates and to make them at par with the international counterparts, “it is expedient to establish an institute known as the Sindh Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases and to enact a law in the matter”.

The bill further said that the headquarters of the institute would be at Karachi/Sukkur.

Alternative dispute resolution

Besides, the house also unanimously passed The Code of Civil Procedure (Sindh Amendment) Bill, 2018, which introduces alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to shed burden on the courts and provide quicker justice in civil cases to save the litigants from spending high costs and time.

The bill said the ADR offered mechanisms such as mediation and conciliation, which were internationally recognised as a vital part of the justice system.

The house discussed calling-attention notices by Heer Soho, Tanzila Sheedi, Marvi Rashdi, and Ghanwer Isran on various issues.

They set Monday to discuss an adjournment motion tabled by Nida Khuhro regarding the federal government’s “lack of interest” in the National Finance Commission Award.

The Sindh Zakat and Ushr (Amendment) Bill, 2018 was introduced.

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