KARACHI - Sindh Food Minister Nadir Ali Khan Magsi has exhorted the people of his constituency to publicly raise their voice against the construction of a new canal in his area, Qambar-Shahdadkot, which has already been rejected by Benazir Bhutto. Speaking at the floor of Sindh Assembly during the general discussion on budget on Thursday, he accused the influential people with vested interests for the construction of the new canal which he alleged would turn the land irrigated by Saifullah Magsi canal, named after his father, into a barren land. At the same time it would irrigate new barren lands for the benefit of people with vested interests. He said that he recently met President Asif Ali Zardari and briefed him about the construction of the new canal. When the President was informed that Benazir Bhutto had already rejected the scheme for the new canal, the President had directed for halting the work on the new canal. He said that he was not consulted or taken into confidence in the planning of a new canal. Magsi said that along with positive aspects highlighted by his colleagues, he would also like to pinpoint weaknesses of the new budget. He said that his colleague, the incumbent irrigation minister, has no sufficient knowledge about irrigation. He lamented that no development schemes of roads, healthcare and education have been allocated in the newly created district of Qamber-Shahdadkot, which lies in his constituency. Taking part in the discussion, Sindh Agriculture Minister Syed Ali Nawaz Shah said that PPP had always served the masses whenever it came to power and presented poor-friendly budgets. Presenting performance of his department during last year, he said that production of cotton had increased by 43.7 per cent compared to last year; rice production increased by 39.6 per cent and wheat by 3.8 per cent. He said that keeping in view shortages of urea, government has imported the commodity in quantity more than the requirement. He said that he had adopted austerity measures in his office and had reduced the expenditure of the secretariat by 22 per cent. Sindh Minister for Excise, Mukesh Kumar Chawla, while appreciating budget said that government had made progress during the outgoing year. He said that his department contributed 30 per cent revenue to the provincial kitty. He said that the PPP-led government had broken records of the past 20 years in revenue collection by collecting 31 per cent more revenue than the fixed target. He said that Excise Department had seized 5,500kg Charas couple of months back and today once again seized it 2,500 kg of Charas worth millions of rupees. Repudiating the criticism of opposition Sindh Minister for Irrigation and Power, Murad Ali Shah, he said that Benazir Bhutto Youth Development Programme was aimed to steer the people from poverty instead of giving begging bowl in their hands as called by the opposition. He said that government had spent Rs725 per person on development during outgoing fiscal and in the new budget it would intend to spend Rs850 per person on development. Shah said since the irrigation was backbone of the economy so government was fully concentrating for strengthening water canals and water conservation. He declared that Akori Dam would not be constructed, as there was no sufficient water in the system. He said the project envisaged for lining of canal amounting to Rs675 billion, of which Rs13 billion will be spent in the first phase for lining of canals. He said that government has identified five sites for the construction of small dams in the province. Talking about Thal Canal, Shah said that the project was initiated by General Pervez Musharraf and now when Rs8 billion had already been spent on this project it was not possible to stop the construction. He assured the people of Punjab that government did not want to deprive the rights of water to any province .It wanted equitable distribution of water between all the provinces, he asserted. As many as 21 speakers have expressed their views on the budget which included Sindh Ministers Shoaib Bukhari, Raza Haroon, Jam Mehtab Dahar, Agha Taimur, Sassui Palejo, Makhdoom Jameel-uz-zaman, Agha Siraj Durrani, Akhtar Jadoon, Ameer Nawab, MQM members Bilquees Mukhtar, Izharul Hassan, PPP members Taimur Talpur, Mir Hassan Khoso, Petamber, Najamudin Abro, Shehla Raza, Tariq Masood Arain and others.