KARACHI                  -              Sindh Minister for Information, Local Government, Housing &Town Planning Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said that the provincial cabinet, after having a detailed discussion on Tuesday, approved the immediate release of Rs100 million to deal with the problem of coronavirus.

Briefing the newsmen after the Sindh cabinet meeting, the provincial minister said that besides purchasing 5,000 testing kits, this amount would be spent on taking other initiatives necessary to combat the spread of the life-taking disease.

He said that primarily only those people who had travelled to China or Iran recently would be tested. “In addition, anyone who has been in contact with these people recently or if he or she has shown symptoms; would be tested for the coronavirus,” the minister added.

Nasir said the provincial cabinet was informed that there were a total of four coronavirus cases in Pakistan, out of which two were in Karachi.

Referring to the various measures taken in this regard, the provincial minister informed that in all nine isolation centers had been set up across the province with 118 beds. “In addition, the provincial government has also released Rs100 million under the Coronavirus Emergency Relief Fund,” he said, and added that people coming back from Iran were being monitored regularly, and only two people had been tested positive for the disease so far.

Nasir said that Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, in his briefing to the cabinet, told that all the passengers coming back from China were being allowed to go home after spending 14 days in quarantine.

The provincial minister said the chief minister said that because the people, who had returned from Iran, did not spend time in Quarantine, two of them had tested positive for the virus.

The Sindh CM told the meeting that he had tackled the issue of coronavirus seriously, and that he had been holding meetings with all the relevant bodies and representatives on a daily basis to ensure that all necessary steps were taken on time.

Nasir further said that the chief minister, while briefing the cabinet members regarding the closure of educational institutions across the province, told that all those who had come back from Iran would complete their 14 days in quarantine on March 13, after which all provincial educational institutions would be opened.

Murad told the cabinet that many people had been kept in isolation in their homes as well. He said that if children of the people who had just returned from Iran had gone to the schools without spending time in Quarantine, the problem could have been extremely serious.

The provincial minister for information said that the cabinet members praised Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah for presiding over the meetings of the task force formed to review the steps needed to be taken to prevent the possible spread of the coronavirus in the province on a daily basis.

He said the cabinet members were of the opinion that the seriousness with which the chief minister had taken up the issue of coronavirus was praiseworthy indeed.

WHEAT PROCUREMENT PLAN

Giving a briefing to newsmen on the procurement of wheat by the Sindh government, Nasir said the provincial cabinet had decided to contact the federal government so that Sindh and federal governments could fix similar minimum support price for the procurement of wheat.

The provincial minister further said the provincial cabinet was informed that the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) had fixed minimum support price for the procurement of wheat for a 40kg bag at Rs1,350.

He said that since the harvesting of new wheat crop had started in the province, the cabinet decided that the rates should be fixed within three days.

“In addition, the provincial cabinet also approved the formation of committees for the procurement of wheat and to listen to the complaints of people,” the minister said, and disclosed these committee would work under the concerned deputy commissioner.

The cabinet decided to make purchases in different districts on agreed dates, the provincial minister informed the newsmen.

DHABEJI SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONE

Briefing about Dhabeji Special Economic Zone, Nasir said that the District Price Control Committee, Thatta had fixed the price of land for this zone at 25 percent of that of market.

The provincial minister further said that in a briefing to the cabinet it was informed that the Sindh government had allocated a total of 1,530 acres of land for the Dhabeji Special Economic Zone. He said that the cabinet also approved the transfer of this 1,530 acres of land to the investment department. After this transfer, the Investment Department would be able to develop this land, he added.

Nasir said that Dhabeji Special Economic Zone was one of Sindh government’s signature projects, and it would proved to be a milestone in contributing towards the development activities of the country, specially Sindh.

SINDH WATER ACT 2020

Giving a briefing to the media on the discussion that took place at the cabinet meeting on the draft of Sindh Water Act, 2020, Nasir said that the draft was presented before the cabinet by the local government and it was proposed for the utilization of land and surface water.