KARACHI - The Sindh Assembly on Monday discussed scarcity of drinking water especially in Karachi and alleged stealing of water by Punjab and Balochistan provinces.

The PPP lawmakers alleged that the federal and Punjab governments were not implementing the Water Accord 1991, and illegally taking water through opening the CJ and TP flood canals during acute water shortage in Sindh; besides Balochistan stealing water from Saifullah Canal. The MQM lawmakers raised the issue of shortage of drinking water in different areas of the city, warning the government to take steps on immediate basis.

The house, which came in order at 11.25 am with Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza in the chair, took up the question-hour pertaining to Forest and Wildlife Department.

As routine, Giyanchand Esrani, who is the minister concerned, remained absent from the house during the question-hour, while Forest and Wildlife Department Parliamentary Secretary Nasir Shah responded to the supplementary questions of the lawmakers.

Replying to a question regarding deterioration of Indus Delta, the parliamentary secretary told the house that minimum annual sweet water requirement for substance of the forest is 0.6 MAF (million acres feet) and for survival of Indus Delta is 10 MAF water, which is not being released in the Indus River.

He further said that the federal government was not releasing the required water in the Indus River, besides the Chashma Jehlum and Taunsa Pajnand flood canals, are opened without prior permission of Sindh. He said that even the water is not available for drinking purpose in the coastal districts, but Punjab is getting water by opening the flood canals, which is injustice towards Sindh.

The parliamentary secretary urged the house to put the political differences aside and unite on the water issue of the province.

He said that the CJ and TP flood canals were closed down within eight hours on the order of then President Asif Ali Zardari during the PPP government, adding that Sindh is again being deprived of its water share by the federal government.

PML-F MPA Abasi insisted to know what the steps the Sindh government has taken so far to get its water share.

Without mentioning the name of the PML-F, PPP’s Parliamentary Secretary Nasir Shah alleged that whole Sindh was opposing Kalabagh Dam but only one party took out rallies during the Musharraf regime in favour of the controversial dam.

Meanwhile, the water issue became talk of the house again when PPP MPA Nawab Taimoor Talpur raised his adjournment motion against the alleged stealing of water from Mithrao Canal in Umerkot district.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Dr Mandhro assured the member that the government has taken action against the grower who had allegedly installed pipeline in the canal.

The parliamentary affairs minister opposed the motion, stating the matter is sub-judice in the court, so it could not be discussed in the house. Later, the chair in her ruling disposed off the issue by declaring the adjournment motion out of order.

On the same issue, the house adopted a resolution moved by PPP MPA Taimoor Talpur.

During the argument on the adjournment motion, PPP MPA and former food minister Mir Nadir Ali Magsi told the house that Sindh’s water was being taken away by Balochistan from Saifullah Canal through illegal means.

“Half of the water of the Saifullah Canal was being diverted to Balochistan through illegal water canals”, Mir Nadir Magsi disclosed, warning that the confrontation on water issue among the two provinces might erupt again during summer season. He urged the Sindh government to look into the issue.

On third time, MQM MPA Muhammad Hussain raised the water scarcity issue on point of order, drawing attention of the house towards drinking water scarcity in Orangi, Qasba, Baldia and other areas of the city. He said that some areas of his constituency were not being provided water for the last four months. He warned the provincial government to ensure alternative measures; otherwise the affected people could take law in their hands.

Sindh Information and Local Government Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon in his reply admitted the water scarcity in the city. He held the Karachi Electric company responsible for not ensuring supply of electricity to the pumping stations at Dhabeji. He said that the government was taking measures to ensure the supply of water in all areas. MQM leader Syed Faisal Sabzwari raised the issue of his party workers’ arrest by cops in plain dress, demanding the government to inform about whereabouts of the detained workers.He said that his party’s 45 workers are still missing while bodies of five of them were found in the city. He said that the Taliban militants are being released but the MQM workers are being arrested under the controversial PPO.

Memon said that police have been ordered not to raid in civil dress, assuring the MQM’s lawmaker that the Sindh government would look into the issue. He advised the MQM lawmaker to ask the Sindh Governor, who is representative of Islamabad, and lodge protest over the PPO. Memon declared that joint opposition will not let the government pass the controversial PPO from the Senate.

Later, PPP’s Sharmila Farooqui on point of order said that the federal government did not present to the Taliban committee the names of Professor Ajmal, Shahbaz Taseer and Ali Haider Gillani for release. She said that Chaudhry Nisar should act as the Interior Minister of Pakistan instead of Taliban, demanding the federal government to ensure early and safe release of innocent Pakistanis captured by the Taliban.

Meanwhile, the Sindh Assembly also passed a resolution against the promulgation of ordinance to dissolve Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, terming it against the constitution. The house passed another resolution, moved by Irum Azeem Farooque, through which it recommended the Sindh government to initiate compulsory vocational technical training in the juvenile jails in the province to develop skills among the prisoners.

Earlier, PTI’s Khurram Sher Zaman staged token walk-out, protesting against the opening of wine shops in residential areas of the city. He said that he can’t join the proceeding as the government is not ready to listen to the opposition.

Later, the chair adjourned the house to meet again on Tuesday.