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November 24, 2017



Sindh proposes constructing 10 more jails to meet shortage

The Sindh prisons minister admitted before the provincial legislature on Thursday that the province was faced with a shortage of prison facilities, to overcome which the government had proposed constructing 10 more jails.

Ziaul Hassan stated this while responding to written and oral queries of lawmakers during the question hour of the Sindh Assembly’s session pertaining to the prisons department. Hassan said the Central Jail Karachi was overcrowded due to presence of inmates more than its capacity, as the prisoners from there were being transferred elsewhere to sort out the issue.

He said new jails were being constructed in Karachi’s District East, Thatta and Qambar-Shahdadkot, adding that they would be completed in three years. He also said mobile phone jammers were installed in seven prisons.

The minister said that some facilities were being monitored through CCTV cameras, while similar systems were being installed in other prisons, adding that the systems would be installed in jails of Hyderabad, Sukkur and Larkana in the current financial year. Responding to a question, he said 210 young persons were incarcerated in juvenile prisons, while six foreign inmates of Afghan origin were also jailed there.

He dismissed the allegations of the Opposition lawmakers that bribes were accepted by jail officials from under-trial prisoners (UTPs) to transport them to courts for their hearings. He assured the House that the government would investigate if relevant evidences were presented to them.

  Winter holidays

Responding to a calling-attention notice of MQM-P MPA Heer Ismail Soho, Education Minister Jam Mehtab Dahar informed the PA that the Sindh government intended to revise the annual schedule of winter holidays for schools.

Heer said the present schedule had become outdated in the face of the weather’s harshness, adding that the winter season started after the winter break ended. Dahar assured the House that a decision regarding the issue would be made soon, saying that the education department’s relevant steering committee was mulling over the matter.

Quoting a Met Office report, he said the spell of harsh winter was usually experienced during January 10 and 20 every year, adding that representatives of private schools would be invited for consultation in the matter.  

Uplift package

Responding to a calling-attention notice of PTI MPA Dr Seema Zia, Local Government Minister Jam Khan informed the House that as part of the schemes included in the Karachi development package, cables of public utility services were laid underground.

Khan said the Sindh government had so far spent Rs8 billion under the special package, as cables of utility services had been laid underground after reconstruction of roads with the sum.

On another calling-attention notice of Heer, the LG minister said allotment of those plots in Gulistan-e-Sarmast Housing Society in Hyderabad had been cancelled whose would-be owners had not paid their dues on time and the plots would now be given to new owners.  

Privilege motion

The House also admitted for further probe another privilege motion of MQM-P MPA Rana Ansar. The privilege motion was similar to the one admitted by the legislature the previous day that was moved by another female legislator of the party.

Thursday’s privilege motion contained the complaint that the finance secretary had used funds released under the community development programme without authorisation. The chair admitted the motion and referred it to the committee of rules of procedure and privileges of the Sindh Assembly for further investigation.

Wednesday’s privilege motion moved by Heer had contained the complaint against a Sukkur deputy commissioner over utilising funds to the tune of Rs20 million issued in her name from the community development programme.  

Wheat export

Food Minister Nisar Khuhro demanded that the federal government allow the export of wheat from the province and also fix the official rates for wheat without delay.

Khuhro said the permission was not being granted by the Centre to export wheat despite repeated requests to this effect by the relevant federal authorities. He said that if timely permission was not granted, then it would not be feasible for the Sindh government to procure wheat in the current year, as per the past practice of the food department.

The minister said farmers of the province had been suffering due to indecision on the part of the federal government, adding that growers had already been facing problems as the provincial administration was yet to fix the procurement rate for sugarcane because price of sugar was not fixed thus far.

He said stocks of wheat procured by the Sindh government in the past year would decay at the storage facilities owing to delay in granting permission to export it. He appealed to the federal government to fix new official rates for procurement of wheat so that the food department could be in a position to start procuring wheat in the new season.  

Livestock trade

The Sindh Assembly unanimously passed the Sindh Livestock Registration & Trade Authority Bill 2017, under which an authority would be formed to register, regulate and control the affairs related to the commerce of livestock.

The proposed authority would devise a mechanism for proper registration and identification of the breed of livestock available in the province, for which a central computerised database would be established.

Livestock owners would be required under this law to register the stock of animals kept by them for rearing and trading within the province. The database would be used to register the dates of birth and death of the animals present in the livestock of the province.

Under the law, the proposed authority should get intimation if animals were taken to slaughterhouses. The animals being imported in the province from abroad would also be registered with the authority. The proposed authority would work for the welfare, rearing and nutritional issues of the animals included in the livestock of the province. The House also unanimously passed bills to amend the Jacobabad Institute of Medical Sciences Act and the Shahdadpur Institute of Medical Sciences Act to curtail the number of members of board of governors of the two institutes.