KARACHI - The estimated number of labour workers has increased up to 9.5 million in the Sindh province instead of 0.5 million registered with Sindh Labour Department. Provincial Minister for Labour, Amir Nawab, while answering the queries from members of Sindh Assembly on Monday said that total registered number of labour workforce was over 0.5 million in the province. At least 0.125 million labourers have been registered during one-year tenure of the present PPP-led government of Sindh, which enhanced the number of labour workers to 0.5 million from 0.37 million in province, Minister said, adding that the estimated number of labour workers was much higher, 9.5 million here. To a question, asked by Nadeem Bhutto from treasury benches regarding hospitals/dispensaries along with allocation of budget expenditure, Provincial Minster said that a total of 11 hospitals were being run under the SESSI, while Rs 114.200 million had been spent on the purchase of medicines and treatments of labour workers during financial year 2006-07. He further said the cheapest medicines were given to patients during previous tenure of regime but present government was purchasing expensive and standard medicines from multinationals for labour workers. To another question regarding complaints for security threats to doctors working in SESSI hospitals, the Minister said the government had taken steps for the protection of these doctors. Nadeem Bhutto further said currently employment exchanges were working only in 14 districts of the province while government had planned to establish at least one employment exchange in each of the 23 districts of Sindh. Defining the nature of employment exchanges, he added the department put forward the case of the people who were registered with these exchanges to the industrial units wherever the vacancies available. He further said that at least 10,306 people had been provided jobs through these employment exchanges during 1st January 2007 to 31st December 2007 in the province, including 264 women. The women lawmakers Bilqees Mukhtar, Heer Ismail Sooho, Humera Alwani and Nusrat Sehar Abassi questioned about the lesser number of women workers who got jobs through employment exchanges. Minster for Labour said there was no gender discrimination in job allocation through employment exchanges, but less number of women got registered for jobs in industries, so there was a need to create social awareness in this regard. Meanwhile, Minister for Women Development, Tauqir Fatima Bhutto, informed the House that under Gender Reforms Programme, provincial government had started a survey to collect actual number of women workers in labour sector including agriculture, industries and other fields in the province. Minister for Industries, Abdul Rauf Siddiqui said that presently 160 plots in Small Industrial Estate Corporation (Extension) were available for allotment but at least 363 applications had been received from the investors. The government had planned to allot these plots through NADRA, which demanded Rs0.6 million as service charges, Minister said and urged the Speaker that instead of giving Rs0.6 million to NADRA, a committee of lawmakers should be formed to allot the plots through balloting in Hyderabad. On the request of Minster for Industries, Acting Speaker Shehla Raza decided that balloting of industrial plots in Hyderabad would be made through Standing Committee of Sindh Assembly members on Industries.