KARACHI - Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah expressed displeasure on closure of 110 RO plants in Thar and directed the Finance Department to release Rs336.7 million and make the RO plants operational immediately. He issued these directives on Monday while presiding over a meeting regarding closure of RO plants here at the CM House.

The chief minister expressing his displeasure and annoyance said that there were 600 RO plants in Thar, of them 110 were made nonfunctional because the contractor has not been released funds.

“Why funds are not released,” the CM asked the chief secretary. Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah said that the approval of the budget was the main reason behind delay in releasing the funds. “The provincial assembly has passed budget in the end of last month and now the budget was available and was being disbursed among the concerned departments,” he said.

The chief secretary added that the funds for the plants would be released to the contractor within next three days. The chief minister directed him to released funds of Rs336.7 million to the contractor on Monday (today) and also directed the contractor to operationalise the RO plants to night and start providing water to the people of Thar from Tuesday.

Murad, talking to the contractor, said that they were working with Sindh government from last many years but just for release of funds they preferred to close the RO plants.  On this the contractor told the chief minister that due to unavailability of funds they could not pay salaries to their employees from June, therefore employees working at the plants stopped working. At this, the chief minister said that the people of Thar had already suffered a lot due to drought situation and the only facility of sweet water made available to them by the government was also stopped, he regretted.

The provincial ministers, Syed Sardar Shah, Imtiaz Shaikh and CM Adviser Murtaza Wahab on the instructions of the chief minister visited Thar on last Sunday and met with the people. They also told the chief minister that the closure of RO plants was a big issue and must be resolved immediately. The chief minister was told that there were 2,646 RO plants installed in different districts of the province, of them 2261 were operational.

Excess payment to contractor: It was pointed out in the meeting that around Rs4 billion excess payment was made to the contractor. At this the contractor brushed aside the impression of over payment and said their funds were still outstanding against the government.

The contractor said that they had taken contracts of all three phases of RO plants installation and solarisation of some RO plants for Rs13.6 billion against which they had received Rs10.5 billion and still their Rs3 billion were outstanding against the government.

The chief minister directed the chief secretary to constitute a committee with representatives from Sindh coal authority, public health engineering and finance department and reconcile all the expenditures being termed as disputed. “This reconciliation must be made within three days,” he said. In case the issue of excess payment is not resolved then a well reputed auditors would hired to audit all the payments made so far.

The meeting was attended by provincial ministers, Saeed Ghani, Imtiaz Shaikh, CM Adviser Murtaza Wahab, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Ali Shah, Chairman P&D Mohammad Waseem, Principal Secretary Said Jamal Abro, Secretary PHE dept Jamal Shah, officers of Sindh Coal authority and high officials of Pak Oasis- the contractors of the RO plant.