Repeating rhetoric: Nothing new to offer minorities
KARACHI: With a 10.5 per cent increase in expenses and Rs567 million allocated for development in the upcoming fiscal year, the minorities affairs department hardly offers any new schemes or projects to uplift religious minorities.
The current expenditure budget has been raised from the outgoing fiscal year’s Rs143.29 million to Rs158.28 million for 2015-2016. However, the development budget, which was Rs567 million last year, remains the same this year too.
Old schemes, new money Sindh Finance Minister Murad Ali Shah, in his budget speech, announced that Rs100 million have been allocated as a grant to uplift the social and economic conditions and welfare of minorities in Sindh. However, the annual development plan (ADP) shows only one new scheme for minorities, related to the construction of a house of worship in Sindh.
All the projects under the ADP are related to the renovation or construction of different houses of worship. Most of the projects for which money has been allocated are those which have been pending for years. Each year, funds are allocated for them but no work is done on the projects. They include the renovation of temples in Sukkur, Hyderabad, Larkana, Karachi and other parts of Sindh. The ADP vaguely mentions that Rs157 million has been allocated for development schemes in different parts of the province.
Hindu representative and parliamentarian Ramesh Kumar lamented that no projects for the security and protection of the houses of worship have been proposed by the department. “In the wake of attacks on temples and different houses of worship in Sindh, projects for installing CCTV cameras and others should have been proposed, but nothing of that sort has been put forward by the department.”