KARACHI - Terming the Textile City project in Port Qasim most important in terms of economy of Sindh, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that he will never allow the federal government to wind it up.

He was presiding over a meeting of Pakistan Textile City Limited (PTCL) here at the CM House on Thursday.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Industries Manzoor Wassan, Chief Secretary Rizwan Memon, Principal Secretary to CM Naveed Kamran Baloch, Secretary Industries Abdul Raheem Soomro and others.

Minister for Industries Manzoor Wassan, while briefing the chief minister, said that Sindh, with 16 percent shares, was the second largest shareholder in the company after the federal government; but it had only one director on the board which was also an injustice.

It may be noted here that the federal government has 40 percent share, Port Qasim and Pakistan Industrial Corporation have eight percent shares respectively while seven other companies hold four percent shares each.

“Sindh has paid its Rs200 million share for development of the city,” he informed.

He said the Sindh government had provided a land of 1250 acres to PQA in lieu of allotment of land to PTCL which had been built over 200 acres.

The PQA issued allotment letters dated August 27, 2006 to PTCL at a cost of Rs1 million per acre. The possession of the land was handed over in 2005.

The chief minister said that the land belonged to Sindh government and PQA could not retain it even after PTCL was wound up.

He directed the minister for industries to make necessary arrangements to take over the land in case the federal government took any drastic measure [winding up of the PTCL project] and get ready to file a case in the court for land and other issues.

Replying to a question, Secretary Industries Raheem Soomro told the chief minister that the federal government felt that the PTCL project was not feasible.

The chief minister responded that Karachi was a port city and Sindh was a cotton growing province. “If textile city is feasible in Faisalabad and Gujranwala, then the city is more suitable in Karachi,” he opined.

The Minister for Industries said that there was a Rs3 billion liability against PTCL since the latter had failed to clear the liabilities of the National Bank and mark up, PQA ground rent, retention money of the builders and professional fees of NESPAK.

Wassan, while giving status of the project, said its master plan had been approved, design of combined effluent treatment plant by NEC had also been approved, but gas supply by SSGC was still pending, 19 percent of external water pipeline had been laid and then stopped, leveling and grading works completed, nine percent road carpeting completed, Administration Block had been completed, 50 percent works on reservoir have also been completed, while K-E has provided one MW uninterrupted power supply.

The CM demanded the federal government to clear the liabilities and start the project as it was planned. “The project would create 150,000 direct jobs. The project of immense importance cannot be wound up,” he said, and directed Minister for Industries Manzoor Wassan to talk to the concerned ministry in the federal government and get it done. “Otherwise other options would be discussed,” he added.