KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Thursday said that diverting 1,000 mmcfd gas from Sindh to other provinces was unconstitutional and causing heavy financial losses to the people of the province.
“Sindh produces 2,800 mmcfd gas out of which more than 1,000 mmcfd is diverted to other provinces by resorting to load-shedding in the industrial areas of the province, this is unconstitutional and causes heavy financial losses to the people of the province,” he said while presiding over a preparatory meeting for Council of Common Interest (CCI) meeting to be held in Islamabad on Friday.
Karachi (November, 23, 2017): Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah presides over a preparatory meeting for Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting to held in Islamabad today (Friday).
Abdul Rasheed Channa
Media Consultant to Chief Minister Sindh
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The meeting was attended by Special Assistant to CM on Inter-Provincial Coordination Nawab Taimore Talpur, Chief Secretary Rizwan Memon, Advocate General Sindh Zamir Ghumro, Principal Secretary to CM Sohail Rajput, Secretary Energy Agha Wasif, Secretary Finance Hassan Naqvi, Secretary U&B Mohammad Hussain Syed, Secretary Labour Rasheed Solangi and others.
Giving constitutional reference, the chief minister said that Article 158 of the constitution recognized precedence of and first right of utilization of gas by gas producing province. but “this right of our people have been denied,” he said adding that Sindh produced 2800 mmcfd gas which should be used for generation of electricity for domestic and industrial purposes of the people of the province, but out of 2800 mmcfd more than 1000 mmcfd its gas was given to other provinces.
He said that there were thousands of villages in Sindh which did not have gas or electricity. Gas load-shedding was resorted in industrial areas of Sindh. “If 1000 mmcfd gas of Sindh is not given to other provinces, Sindh can produce 5000 MW electricity from it at a rate of Rs8 per unit against Rs15 per unit which we are charged.”
Murad Ali Shah said that this caused billion rupees loss to the province, therefore the people of Sindh demand implementation of Article 158 in true letter and spirit. He added that the people of Sindh demand from the federal government to let it use its gas and for that purpose a resolution would be presented in provincial assembly of Sindh.
He said that natural gas produced from all new discoveries and old wellheads located in a province be allocated to respective province. The province(s) with deficient gas production should meet their requirement by importing gas, LNG, LPG etc. He urged the federal government to announce province specific Gas Allocation and Management Policy (GA&MP).
It is apropos here to mention that Thar coal project, which can produce more electricity than through oil resources of Saudi Arabia and Iran put together, will also add all its supply to national grid overlooking locals.
The provincial government has prepared a draft Sindh GA&MP-2017. Under the draft policy first priority would be given to domestic, second to defece and strategic installations, third fertilizer, KE power plants, independent power producers, GENCO and power plants under public-private partnership mode with firm gas supply commitments, textile industry and captive power producers of export oriented textile industry. Fourth priority was given to housing industry, general industry, CNG. Fifth priority to KE power plants other than the listed in third priority and sixth priority was given to cement, said a press release issued by the CM House.
Discussing drafty national water policy, the Sindh chief minister said that he would accept the new policy if observations of the provincial government were incorporated. He said that his observations included securing katcha (slum) areas and economy thereof; to preserve delta area by providing sufficient supplies regularly; to make rain water disposal arrangement in plains where it cannot be disposed of or diverted in the river and to ensure equity of water distribution between head and tail reaches and to rationalize water allocations between various canal commands shall be rationalized but without harming the water accord allocation.
He also said that the provinces were responsible for routine repair and maintenance of flood protection dykes, flood fighting and drainage, however in case of major catastrophic like 2010 floods, the funds should be provided by the federal government.
“National Surface Drainage shall be developed through consultation among the provinces for handling of saline and toxic effluent but making the province, generating such effluent, responsible for treating it before allowing it to flow into the other provinces,” he said.
Talking about provincial Higher Education Commission, the CM said that the provincial government was of the view that federal HEC Ordinance 2002 may be amended and its application be made limited to federal territory only. The federal Higher Education Division should be devolved and its functions which now were the domain of the Sindh HEC, including regulations, planning and policy of higher education institutions and their functions and assets be transferred to the provincial HEC.
He said that the practice of funding to the provincial public sector universities being made directly by the federal HEC may be routed through proper channel, that is provincial government till next NFC award, as was decided earlier.
Murad proposed that the ministry of IPC should evolve a smooth transition mechanism in consultation with provinces for smooth devolution of existing physical and technical resources and assets of the federal HEC.
The other item which are likely to be taken up in the CCI include supply of gas to villages within 5 km radious of gas field. Under this category more 437 villages of Sindh would be given gas but there is a dispute of payment. The federal government wanted Sindh to pay Rs2.844 million against the total expenditures of Rs3.59 million, while the provincial government urged federal government to meet all the expenditures.
The other items on the CCI agenda were establishment of fiscal coordination committee, post devolution status of EOBI and workers welfare fund (WWF).