Sindh cancels leases of forest land
KARACHI: The Sindh Cabinet cancelled on Monday the leases of 70,000 acres of forest land illegally allotted to different persons across the province and decided to initiate action against influential persons who have been occupying 145,245 acres of forest land illegally.
The decisions were taken in the Sindh Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Monday, which also approved a motion, granting the ability to remove the mayor, deputy mayor, chairperson or chairperson from their office with a ‘simple majority’ in their respective house.
The meeting was attended by Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, all provincial ministers, advisers and special assistants. According to Section 27 of the Sindh Local Government Act, 2013, “A mayor, deputy mayor, chairman or vice chairman shall be removed from office if a vote of no-confidence is passed against him or her in the prescribed manner by two third majority of the total number of the members of the council”. In this regard, an amendment was moved in the law. Sindh LG minister Saeed Ghani presented an amendment to the existing law saying, “Removal of mayor and deputy-mayor with a two-third majority is against the Constitution.
When the Prime Minister, speakers and other office-bearers can be removed with a simple majority, then what is wrong with the mayor and deputy mayor?” The meeting approved the amendment and substituted the words, “by two-thirds majority”, with “simple majority”.
Forest land CM Shah directed the Forest department to enlist the support of police and Rangers personnel to retrieve the illegally occupied 145,245 acres of land, for which he would issue the necessary instructions. As far as the 70,000 acres of land, which has been illegally allotted, is concerned, the leases have been cancelled and the Revenue Department and Forest Department would issue the cancellation orders.
To a question of the chair, Forest Minister Syed Nasir Shah said that 13,000 acres have been retrieved from illegal occupants and action was being taken for the retrieval of the remaining land. At this, the chief minister directed him to start an operation against the illegal occupants, for which he would provide him the required police and Rangers personnel. The CM also presented another item for the reconstitution of governing bodies of various development authorities.
The cabinet authorised the local government minister to appoint the remaining members, where required, and report to the chief minister. Besides, the cabinet approved the creation of a separate department in lieu of the Sindh Board of Investment and also approved the renewal of contract of Prof Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan Rajput as chairman of the Charter of Inspection and Evaluation Committee. The Irrigation department presented three names – former secretaries Imtiaz Qazi and Idress Rajput and engineer Abdul Basit Soomro – for the position of Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority Chairman. The cabinet was told that Mr Idress Rajput has already declined while Imtiaz Qazi who has been a member of the Federal Public Service Commission, could not hold any other position. Therefore, cabinet approved the appointment Mr Basit Soomro as SIDA chairman.
Compensation to coalfield affectees Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh told the cabinet that 757 families living within one-kilometer radius of the Gorano Dam and Dukkur Chho pond should be considered as affected persons, apart from the 471 who have been displaced due to the development of Thar Coalfield Block-II.
The chief minister said that these affected people have every right to be compensated. The cabinet approved Rs900 million as donation for Thar Foundation, from which Rs100,000 would be given annually to each affected family for the next 30 years. The Thar Foundation would invest the amount and start paying compensation to the affected people of Gorano and Dukkur Chho. The cabinet also approved a compensation of Rs100,000 to 471
affected families of Thar Block-II. This compensation would be paid by Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company because they were the lease holders. These 471 families are also each being provided a house in two different villages, Senhri Dars and Tharyo Halepoto.
Sugarcane price Agriculture Minister Ismail Rahu told the cabinet that the growers were demanding to increase the purchase price of sugarcane as it was stagnant from the last three years at Rs182 per 40 kg. He added that the Government of Punjab has already fixed sugarcane price at Rs180, therefore he recommended that the price should not be lower than Rs182 per maund. The minister also informed the meeting that the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association’s representatives were of the view that the price of sugar had come down to Rs48 per kg in the market. The cabinet approved to fix the price of sugarcane at Rs182 per 40 kg. The cabinet also approved to authorise the agriculture minister to appoint Market Committees on his own and inform the cabinet.
Qingqi fare The Transport Department apprised the cabinet that there was no minimum or maximum fare for Qingqi and motorcycle rickshaws. Therefore, it proposed two fare slabs – Rs10 for 0 to six kilometres and Rs15 for any distance above that. The cabinet approved the fare. The chief minister directed the transport department to ensure proper safety precautions in the said rickshaws and also to register them. “Why has their registration been delayed?” he questioned. Excise Minister Mukesh Chawla told the chief minister that their registration process was being started.
Govt residences Services and General Administration Secretary Zulfiqar Shah briefed the cabinet on the present status of the allotments of government residences. The cabinet discussed the allotments’ status and said that the forced eviction of those who were residing there against the policy would be ethically wrong. Therefore, the cabinet approved a one-time waver for the present allottees and till their retirement, they would be entitled to stay there. However no allotment against the policy would be made from here on. The chief minister directed the chief secretary to get all the residences inspected to check if there were any outsiders residing in them. “This is unacceptable and I will not allow the misuse of government residences,” he said. The secretary told the meeting said there are six residential colonies of the provincial government in Karachi.
Recruitments approved The Sindh government approved the recruitment in government departments from grade 1 to 15. During the meeting, the Services and General Administration department presented an item to seek permission to start recruitments against the vacant posts. The chief minister said that these recruitments would be made purely on merit. The guideline is to publish advertisements in newspapers and then make selection committees. He also said in lower grades, only locals can be recruited, however there would a 5% quota for disabled and 5% for minorities. In this regard, the provincial government constituted a committee comprising Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh, Law Adviser Barrister Murtaza Wahab and the law and services secretaries to frame the rules for recruitment.