KARACHI - Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah Thursday held the federal government responsible for power outages in the province and said he was ready to stage a sit-in at the Prime Minister House along with other political parties to raise the water and electricity issues.

Addressing a press conference at the Sindh Assembly, the chief minister said nothing could be achieved by staging a protest at the Chief Minister House; instead, all political parties should join hands for protest at the PM House in Islamabad.

“I telephoned the prime minister six times and wrote two letters to him over unannounced electricity loadshedding across the province, including its capital, Karachi.” He lamented there had been 14 to 24 hours power outages in other parts of the province.

Murad said the federal government of PML-N in terms of water, power and federal transfers had pursued a policy of crushing Sindh and its people, adding it was their political agenda.

He said there were three serious issues in which the federal government of PML-N had started penalising people of Sindh. Pointing out the issues, he said there is a prolonged loadshedding, water shortage during Rabi and short release of funds, which had not only affected day-to-day life badly, but also was crippling agro-industrial economy.

The chief minister said he had written two letters to the prime minister and talked to him on telephone for at least six times to draw his attention towards the SSGC and K-Electric dispute which had turned into over 12-hour prolonged loadshedding in the city. The industrialists are being forced to shut down their industrial units, he lamented.

Murad said the prime minister told him he had called both the entities, SSGC and KE. “I heaved a sigh of relief believing that the matter would be resolved, but the prime minister, instead of listening to both the parties personally, deputed Miftah Ismail to settle the dispute. When I called Miftah on his cell phone, he sent a message that he was out of the country,” he regretted.

Murad said SSGC contends since its Rs 29 billion are due against KE, it has reduced gas supply to KE. As a result, four gas-based power plants of KE stopped generating electricity, causing more than 12 hours loadshedding.

The chief minister said when Rs 29 billion outstanding dues were audited, they turned to be Rs 13 billion principal money and the remaining amount as late payment and interest.

He added the KE was ready to clear the old amount in instalments with full current payment of gas. “Now, the court has also directed the SSGC to supply 276 mmcfd gas to KE. “This is your dispute; in SSGC the federal government has 73 percent and in KE 24 percent shares. You get it settled. Why are you penalising people of Karachi?” the chief minister asked the Centre.

The chief minister said 16-hour loadshedding is seen in Shaheed Benazirabad, 14 hours in Sukkur, 12 hours in Mirpurkhas, 16 hours in Larkana, 14 hours in Hyderabad and 18 hours in his home district Jamshoro. “This shows how much severe the vendetta of the federal government is against the people of Sindh, because they have been voting PPP to power since 1970s,” he said.

The chief minister said the federal government has not so far released Rs 94 billion to Sindh. “This has caused serious problems with the financial health of the provincial government,” he said and questioned why he had curtailed development expenditures.

Murad said it was inefficiency of the federal government that it could not achieve its tax recovery targets. As far as the Sindh government was concerned, its collections were close to the targets. The SRB, excise & taxation would achieve their recovery target, he claimed.

The chief minister said some people were planning to stage a sit-in against loadshedding and water shortage at CM House. “You have every right to do so, but I would invite all political parties to come together and stage a sit-in in front of PM House and I’ll be with you,” he said. 

Talking about water shortages during Rabi session, the Sindh CM said Irsa had conveyed there would be 20 percent water shortage, but it reached 36 percent. “I don’t know the water shortage was natural or it was theft,” he stated.

Replying to a question about the raid NAB conducted on the Local Government Department, Murad said he and his government would never create hurdles in curbing corruption, but there should a decent legal system to initiate inquiries and conduct raids. “Hardly grade B-17 or 18 officers raided the office of Grade-20 local government secretary, snatched from him his personal cell phone, insulted him, took away files with them and arrested his PS. “When I heard about the incident, I directed the chief secretary to talk to the NAB DG. The DG sought apology over the NAB officers’ misbehaviour with the local government secretary and assured him of returning all the belongings they had taken away, but nothing had been returned so far,” Murad said and expressed his reservations over the conduct of NAB.

 

Murad for sit-in outside PM House over power outages