KARACHI - The Sindh government on Saturday formed committees to approve release of funds for expenditure and deal with rehabilitation of people affected by the ongoing anti-encroachment drive in Karachi.

The decisions were approved by the cabinet meeting chaired by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and attended by all provincial ministers, advisers, special assistants, chief secretary, inspector general of police and other relevant officials. Adviser to Chief Minister on Information Murtaza Wahab later briefed the media about the proceedings.

During the meeting, the chief minister discussed removal of encroachments and expressed his concern over the condition of people affected by the ongoing anti-encroachment drive. He told the authorities to make alternative arrangements for the affected people so that they could resume their business activities as soon as possible. The anti-encroachment drive has been started on the orders of the Supreme Court.

P&D Chairman Mohammad Waseem informed the meeting that number of people affected by the Karachi Circular Railways project was 6,000 and they would be compensated.

The chief minister constituted a committee consisting of ministers of local government and energy, Adviser Murtaza Wahab, Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar and Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shahlwani. He directed the committee to prepare a detailed report about the affected people and recommend alternative arrangements and compensation for them.

He also issued direction for compensation and rehabilitation of people who were affected by the anti-encroachment drive at the Empress Market and restoration of the market and its adjoining areas.

Wahab told the media that the provincial government had formed a sub-committee of cabinet to look after financial matters of the province. The committee consisting of ministers Saeed Ghani, Syed Nasir Hussain Shah and Imtiaz Shaikh will approve future expenditure of the government. He said the cabinet decided that SITE Limited had no authority to convert industrial plots into commercial plots. Therefore, the chief minister directed removal of all encroachments made by commercial entities, causing obstruction in the flow of drains in all estates of SITE Limited. SITE Limited should take up the task of removal of encroachments on its own otherwise the commissioner of Karachi would do this.

The chief minister also constituted a committee under Adviser to Chief Minister on Industries Sardar Mohammad Bakhsh Maher. Minister for Local Government Saeed Ghani and Adviser on Law Murtaza Wahab are members of the committee. The task of the committee would be to review layout/master plans of SITE Limited thoroughly, make necessary recommendations for their upgrade and get them approved from the board. It was also approved that composition of SITE boards would be changed.

The water and sewerage network of all Trading Estates of SITE would be surveyed thoroughly and a proper Development Action Plan would be prepared for submission to the government for release of funds. The cabinet also approved that SITE Limited would open a separate account with the sole purpose to utilize that amount on water, sewerage and solid waste-related projects. For that purpose the commercial fee collected by SITE Limited would be reviewed thoroughly and it would be enhanced to a reasonable level. The chief minister said the committee headed by the adviser for industries would scrutinize the cases of conversion of commercialization and submit a report to the chief secretary for action.

Wahab said the cabinet had approved increase in the minimum wages for labourers. As per the recommendations, wages of highly-skilled workers would range from Rs21,083 to Rs22,569. Wages of skilled workers would be Rs18,589 to Rs19,836 and wages of semi-skilled workers would be Rs16,596 to Rs17,345. The minimum wage of unskilled labour has already been fixed at Rs16,200.  The cabinet formed a committee to look into the Sindh Reproductive Healthcare Rights (SRHR) Act 2018, which gives protection to basic rights of the mother and child. Principles of family planning were also devised in accordance with the SRHR Act.

It also approved new name for the Department of Sindh Katchi Abadi and renamed it as Human Settlement Spatial Development and Social Housing Department.

The meeting also approved appointment of Jan Muhammad Lanjar as presiding officer at the Special Court, Sindh Public Property (Removal of Encroachment), Sukkur.

The adviser said the information department would enact a law, which will deal with payment of salaries to employees of media houses. To a question, he rejected the notion that the governor of Sindh was removed from the apex committee.

He said that he had never been part of the committee and was instead invited to attend some meetings in the past.

He announced that the provincial government would celebrate the Sindh Cultural Day in the province.