LAHORE -  The Punjab Assembly yesterday failed to complete agenda of the day as lack of quorum triggered adjournment of proceedings of the 26th session till Monday afternoon.

One of the two important items for government business day on agenda was general discussion on the annual activity report of Faisalabad, Multan, Gujranwala and Rawalpindi Development and Horticulture Authority. But it could not be completed due to lack of quorum.

The highly raucous and boisterous scene created by the treasury and the opposition legislators in the National Assembly on Thursday also echoed in the provincial assembly, but only to condemn the improper behaviour of the superior legislators. When the session started proceedings of the day 65 minutes late with Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan in the chair, only eight members, all from the treasury, were present. Subsequently, some other members popped in, but the house failed to get a convincing number of legislators. It may be a pre-decided move, yet presence of a thin number of MPAs also accounted for the lackluster reaction to what happened in the NA a day before.

The leader of the opposition and the speaker were found on the same page over condemning the rowdiness in the NA, although undercurrent of their respective tones was holding the other side responsible for the same. Mian Mahmudur Rashid flayed the incident, accusing the federal ministers of using base and indecent language which drove the NA to a chaotic situation. “I strongly condemn attitude of the ministers,” he said. The speaker also exhorted the legislators to show respect to each other. “Respect should be shown from both sides of the aisle”, the speaker said in the calm house.

Earlier, the house received answers to questions from Parliamentary Secretary for Higher Education Mehwish Sultana who justified raise in the fees Bahawalpur Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education has made to meet the fiscal deficit. She said under instructions of Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, registration and examination fees of students of the board were waived in 2010-11, which brought the financial loss to the tune of Rs 22.8 million. She said the increase had been made only in rechecking of attempted sheets and correction of names and that the board was independent to take decision. The questioner, Dr Waseem Akhtar, however, took exception to the manifold increase in the fees which, he said, was irrational and did not consider the capacity of the poor students.

To another question about the same board, Parliamentary Secretary for Higher Education Mehwish Sultana said 69 vacancies had been filled on daily-wage basis against 123 vacancies in different categories to meet urgent needs. She added no restriction was in place on their regularisation of daily wagers who were considered as civil servants since they were paid by the government.

Mian Tariq Mahmood from the treasury said illegal appointments of daily wagers had been made in Gujrat colleges, which was tantamount to corruption of the worst order on the part of the officials concerned. He also invited attention of the house to the difference of fees being charged at government colleges in that district. Despite protest by the locals, this disparity had not been ended, he said.

Another treasury member, Azma Bohkhari, grumbled over her privilege motion against the private practice of a lady doctor of Services Hospital six-month delay lying pending for six months. She said she was told by the hospital authorities that since the lady doctor was on a visit abroad, she was not attending the hospital, but factually she was running her private clinic. The MPA was quite furious, saying her motion was still lying with the secretary and urged the chair to dispose it of if it had not been entertained.

As many as four adjournment motions were kept pending for debate next time. PTI member Sadia Sohail Rana pointed out use of dangerous chemicals in sweets, candies, toffees and chocolates which were causing serious diseases of liver, stomach, kidneys, and even cancer. As per lab reports, she said, highly poor quality of ghee and adulterated milk was being used in sweets. Ch Ashraf Ali Ansari accused the officials of the food department of loitering over an inquiry into the mixture of earth, rock powder and rice waste in the flour being supplied by the flour mills on the official list despite the lapse of four years.

Mian Mahmudur Rashid brought to the limelight a serious issue of open use of narcotics and drugs of all kinds by girl students at the hostels of private universities. He said this activity on the part of students was going on under the nose of the university authorities. The fourth motion moved by Ahmad Khan Bhachar raised the issue of unabated use of dangerous injections ‘boost-in 250’, despite ban, to get extra milk from cattle.