KARACHI               -              Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Saturday has said that Sindh was not ending the lockdown on Monday (May 11) and “we are entering the second phase of lockdown with some extra restrictions, particularly at hotspots.” In a statement issued from the CM’s House on Saturday, the Chief Minister said that some media channels were giving the impression that the lockdown was ending on Monday, which was totally wrong.

Syed Murad Ali Shah said, “we are entering phase-II under which strict controls at hotspots were being initiated.” However, minor exemptions would be given to some sectors such as construction phase-II, and isolated shops in neighbourhoods would be allowed to operate under Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued by the government.

The Sindh CM added that air, train and public transport would continue to remain close. “Our lockdown is linked to our data,” he said and added that our provincial health capacity was currently 20 percent.

We would consistently adjust our protective measures according to our capacity,” Syed Murad Ali Shah added.

CM orders release of Rs 286m for anti-locusts operation

Over all 166,701 of cropping area was damaged which constituted 13.8 percent of the total cropping area, says Murad Shah

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has approved the release of Rs286 million, apart from de-freezing Rs 132 million of agriculture department to start pesticide spray operation against locust which has already damaged crops standing over 166,701 acres. He took this decision on Saturday while presiding over a meeting here at CM’s House.

Through video link, the meeting was attended by Minister Agriculture Ismail Rahu, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, Secretary Finance Hassan Naqvi, Secretary Agriculture Raheem Soomro, senior officers of Plant Protection department of the federal government and the officers of agriculture extension.

Sindh Minister for Agriculture Ismail Rahu briefed the Chief Minister that locust swarm had been reported in Jacoabad on April 25, 2017. He added that the other affected districts were Shikarpur, Larkana, Kashmore, Ghotki, Sukkur, Khairpur, Matiari, Dadu, Gadap and Malir of Karachi, Jamshoro and Hyderabad.

It was pointed out that nymphol population/hooper bands were present in desert areas of Tharparkar, Umerkot, Sanghar, Shaheed Benaziarabad, Khairpur, Sukkur and Ghotki, At this the Chief Minister said that the locust could move to cropping area which was a standing threat, therefore he directed agriculture department continued their control operation.

The Plant Protection department of the federal government representatives told the Chief Minister that they had assisted the Sindh Government in control operation in Ghotki, Kashmore and Khairpur where sprayed launched over 17,372 acres. Minister agriculture said that the Agriculture Extension teams had also conducted spray in all districts and covered the area of 24,867 acres. The overall 41500 acres in all 18 districts had been covered through spray. The Chief Minister was told that survey and control operation in cropping areas had been carried out by the agriculture department which has procured vehicles mounted with 45 sprayers. The Chief Secretary told the Chief Minister that he had held a number of meetings on locust control. He added that at present the agriculture department had need of Rs 286 million for purchase of 25 sprayer mounted vehicles, chemicals and pesticides. The CM approved the release of Rs286 million and directed finance department to release Rs132 million it had frozen under coronavirus emergency measures.

Murad Shah was told that partial damage occurred in pockets due to locust attack. Mostly the cropped area was saved due to regular spray in cropping area.

The crops partially damaged, include wheat standing over 35,751 or 1.3 percent of total crop, oils seeds 1552 acres or 2.5 percent, pulses 111 acres or 3.2 percent.

Fodder 3656 acres or 2.6 percent, vegetables 4247 acres or 2.5 percent and other minor crops standing over an area of 76,067 acres or 1.7 percent. At this the CM said that it showed that over all 166,701 of cropping area was damaged which constituted 13.8 percent of the total cropping area. Rahu told the Sindh CM that there would be a loss of sugarcane, cotton and other crops presently sown over an area of 1,751,130 hectares if timely spary was not conducted.

The Chief Minister directed Chief Secretary to chair a joint meeting of Agriculture department and Department of Plant Protection of the federal government and evolve a strategy to start spray and share the spray schedule with him.