LAHORE  -     Treasury legislators criticised the government for poor sanitation in Lahore despite paying hefty amount to two foreign companies from public exchequer at Punjab Assembly on Friday.

While expressing dissatisfaction over the terms and conditions of the agreement, parliamentary secretary Ahmad Khan Bhacchar said that the government could not revoke, amend or audit the contract till its expiry in June 2020.

During question hour on local government and community development department, PTI’s Shawana Bashir questioned as to why the government was not giving due attention to lifting and proper disposal of garbage from Lahore. She said heaps of garbage could be seen even in the posh localities.

Uzma Kardar joined her colleague with a supplementary question, saying sanitary workers were found burning the garbage which was causing serious environmental hazards and increasing respiratory diseases among the citizens.

Parliamentary secretary Ahmad Khan Bhacchar said the government was not satisfied with the contract given to Turkish companies Al-Bayrak and Oz Pak, for 13 million dollars and 18 million dollars annually respectively. He said the government could not revoke the contract till its expiry. However, he said the government intended to make forensic audit of the contracts. He said that both the companies were paid an amount of Rs29905.9 million till March 2019. He said the government had imposed a waste disposal tax of Rs20 per shop in 2000 which was raised to Rs500 per shop at present. He said Lahore Waste Management Company had 9000 sanitary workers and 268 waste disposal vehicles, aided by 622 vehicles of foreign companies. He said sanitary workers were not allowed to burn waste. He said incidents of fire were found to have been caused by throwing burning cigarette butts in the waste dumps.

On a point of order, treasury legislator Niaz Hussain Khan drew attention of the chair towards poor sanitation arrangement, unavailability of potable water and resultant alarming increase in diseases in his constituency in district Muzaffaragarh. None of the ministers and parliamentary secretaries hailing from southern Punjab paid heed to their colleague’s complaints.

Niaz Hussain drew attention towards increasing deaths of children due to TB and Hepatitis owing to consumption of polluted water. He said he was forced to raise the plight after failing to draw authorities’ attention over the last nine months. He said that Muzaffargarh’s representatives had served as governors, chief ministers, and ministers of Punjab but the plight of over 4.5 million population of the district remained unchanged.  He demanded member panel of chairmen Mian Shafi Mohammad to either constitute a House committee to suggest solutions or conduct independent surveys to verify his complaints. The chair agreed that his complaints were of serious nature and deserved proper attention from the authorities.

In the meantime, PML-N’s Zaibun Niza pointed quorum.  As the quorum remained incomplete even after ringing bells for five minutes, the chair prorogued the session.