KARACHI - Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that his government is not against construction of Bhasha Dam; it wants the water storage issue resolved.

He said this while talking to the media after inaugurating the first-ever Centre for Autism Rehabilitation and Training (C-ART) in Gulistan-e-Jauhar. On this occasion, P&D Chairman Mohammad Waseem, Principal Secretary to CM Sohail Rajput, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities Secretary Abbas Baloch, Prof Dr Nabila Soomro and others were also present.

The chief minister said the provincial government had no objection to construction of Bhasha Dam. There is need for storage of water, but “we have to see how much water is available in our system”, he said.

Replying to a question, he said that street crime has increased in Karachi and it has invited criticism. “Actually, this problem [street crime] increased during the caretaker government and now we are curbing it,” he said. “The new inspector general of Sindh Police is joining and we will formulate a vigorous strategy to eliminate street crime and restore the overall law and order,” he vowed.

Murad said the National Action Plan (NAP) was being implemented and the targeted operation in the city produced the best results. “Now, we are going to divert it to street criminals, drug mafia and land grabbers,” he said.

To a question, Murad said the poor were being given houses under the Benazir Bhutto Housing Cell. “This programme has been going on for the last many years and a large number of homeless people has been gives houses,” he said.

C-ART

Addressing the inaugural ceremony at the Centre for Autism Rehabilitation and Training (C-ART), Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said that Autism or disability was not a disease, but it was a problem which parents and the society have to understand to handle lovingly, medically and carefully. “It is our responsibility to support our children who are differently abled,” he said.

He said it was not a big problem to establish institutions; the problem was to find dedicated and devoted professionals to run them in the public interest and make them genuine institutions. “Today, we have established C-ART and we have found some dedicated persons like Dr Nabila Soomro and others to make this institution one of the best in South Asia,” he said. This is the biggest C-Art institution in public sector in South Asia, he said.

He pointed that he learnt from different presentations that more people of administration were working in C-Art than trainers or experts. “We have to increase the strength of trainers and teaching staff to make it a professional institution,” he said and added that he was ready to provide funds the C-Art administration needs, but he wants to see results and genuine rehabilitation.

The chief minister urged the C-Art administration to establish its satellite centres in others parts of the province. “There is dire need for such rehabilitation and training centres all over Sindh,” he said. He gave the example of NICVD and said it had about eight satellite centres in different districts of the province.

Murad said the C-Art would cater to the needs of the children whose parents could not afford fee of private institutions. He said that he was working hard for education and training of every segment of the society. “We are also improving our schools working for special children,” he said.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a range of conditions characterised by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication as well as by unique strengths and differences.

Murad said over 60 million people were suffering from autism across the world and they do not have access to even public services in many third-world countries in Africa and Asia, including Pakistan. “The situation is definitely alarming,” he said. In a country like Pakistan where reasonable education remains a dream even for an average person, he said, affording rehabilitation services for an autistic child remains something like a big challenge.

In 2016-17, Murad had allocated Rs71.7 million for establishment of Centre of Autism Rehabilitation and Training Sindh (C-Arts) in a three-story building with 38 rooms over an area of three acres in Gulistan-e-Jauhar. This is the first ever centre in the public sector and the biggest in South Asia. It has the capacity to enrol 300 children in a session and it would cater to the needs of autistic children whose parents cannot afford private institutes’ fees. The autism centre has been completed and is ready to facilitate children and their families.

Earlier, the chief minister unveiled the plaque to inaugurate the newly-built centre. When he arrived at the centre, special children sang a song to welcome him.