KARACHI - Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that he will support holding of population and housing census in the meeting of Council of Common Interests (CCI) to be held in Islamabad on Friday (today).

“I would protect the constitutional rights of Sindh and its people,” the CM vowed.

He was presiding over a meeting held here on Thursday to oversee preparations for the CCI meeting to be held with prime minister in the chair.

The CM was informed that as per orders of the Supreme Court, 6th population and housing census would be held on March 15, and would be completed in two months. “It has been proposed to carry out the field operation in two phases, and each phase will start in each province simultaneously,” Murad was told.

He was further informed that Phase–II would begin 10 days after the completion of the first phase.

Furthermore, two blocks will be covered by one enumerator in each phase while one soldier will accompany each enumerator. The enumerators and supervisors will be from education, local government and revenue departments.

He was further told that scheme for the deployment of staff had been finalised. “The training sessions for field staff have begun, while the appointments of field staff (teachers) have also started,” the CM was informed.

The chief minister said that he would support agenda of the CCI meeting.

He was also told that there would be 931 census charges, 5120 circles, 38634 blocks and 44685 census areas in Sindh.

“Some 27905 staff members, including 19317 enumerators, 19317 enumerators, 5120 supervisors and 931 superintendents would be part of the exercise,” he was apprised.

Regarding other agendas of the meeting namely higher education, formulation of a national flood protection plan, import of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), allocation of funds for the national security, FATA reforms, National Forest Policy, and the transfer of Nepra from Cabinet Division to line ministry, Murad said that the provincial government had drafted two legislations.

“The first legislation is aimed at devolution of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the other seeks the establishment of a commission for raising standards of higher education in Pakistan,” he elaborated.He further said that he had sent drafts of these two legislations to other provinces to elicit their opinions.

The CM differed with the practice of doling out huge funds to the universities directly by the HEC. “This is wrong,” he said, and added, “In fact HEC should give funds to the universities through provincial universities & boards departments.”

Talking about Formulation of National Flood Protection Plan-IV (2015-25), he said that the provincial governments were competent to make their own plans and the federal government should finance them in this regard.

“This was the resolution once passed by the national assembly and it should be implemented accordingly,” he said, but added that he would support the plan if suggestions of the provincial government were also incorporated.

Talking about the National Forest Policy, participants of the meeting agreed that it was a provincial subject and the Center had nothing to do with it.  However, they said, they would welcome the federal government’s intervention if the latter wanted to set targets and finance the province on this front.

The chief minister said that he was not clear what kind of policy the Center wanted to formulate because the federal government had not sent a summary.

About the transfer of NEPRA from the Cabinet Division to the line ministry, the CM told the meeting that he was against the proposal. “Nepra must remain independent because it is a regulatory body and it must be independent in taking decisions,” he said, and added, “If it is given to any line ministry, all its regulations and decisions will be influenced by the concerned ministry,” he apprehended.