KARACHI - The issue of discrimination in release of development fund again echoed in the Sindh Assembly on Monday when a PTI lawmaker moved a privilege motion over the issue and members of MQM and PML-F criticised the ruling party for discriminating against opposition members.

PTI’s Khurrum Sher Zaman, in his motion, said that he had received a letter from planning and development department on November 18, 2013 stating that government has approved Rs40 million for development scheme for his constituency.

Bur, now when all the procedure has got completed the department concerned is saying they do not have any funds available with them, he said, asking the government why such discriminatory treatment was being meted out to the opposition members.

MQM leader Sardar Ahmed said that though the chief minister at a meeting with the MPAs had promised release of 50 percent development funds to the members but instruction were given for release of only Rs10 million for each constituency of opposition MPs. On the other hand, he said Rs40 million each had been released for the development schemes in constituencies of some 60 members of the ruling party. He deplored that funds had also been released to MNAs and Senators who have no privilege.

Opposing the privilege motion, Sindh Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr Sikandar Mahendaro said that government had already assured the opposition members for the release of funds so there was no question to move the privilege motion. Deputy Speaker Ms Shehla Raza, who was presiding the session, said that chief minister would brief the members on the issue in next days.

On this, Khurrum said he would not press for his privilege motion if the minister for the parliamentary affairs assured him on behalf of chief minister that funds would be released for his constituency. However, Mahendaro said he would apprise the chief minister about the issue raised by the members.

The house witnessed acrimony between Sindh Minister for Information and Local Government Sharjeel Memon and MQM members on a call attention notice of Kamran Akhtar about shortage of water in Karachi, especially in district West and Central.

Kamran in his notice said that citizens were facing acute shortage of water while the hydrant mafia was minting millions of rupees through sale of water which is causing huge financial loss to the government as well. He said that TTP activists were running number of water hydrants in certain areas. He said that business of illegal water hydrant has become so lucrative that even drug pushers have started this business.

Responding to the call attention notice, the minister said that Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) was literally destroyed during Gen Musharraf’s regime as employees had been recruited in the utility beyond strength. He said that large number of employees did not attend the office and were performing duties on other places but getting salaries from the KWSB. So much so that number of employees had left the country, he added. He said an adjournment motion should be moved in the house to discuss the issue threadbare and he would divulge more facts in the house.

Mr Memon suggested that a committee comprising assembly members should be constituted for the retrenchment of those employees who were not performing duties in KWSB. This created stir in the house and some MQM members tried to speak. However, the minister said that he did not name anybody.

Sharjeel Memon conceded that hydrant mafia was active in certain localities, especially in the sensitive area of Mango Pir. He said he had written letters to the home department and DG Rangers for additional forces to destroy these illegal water hydrants. He said that four illegal hydrant had been destroyed under his supervision but were restored on court orders.

During the session, the house elected 37 standing committees after the passage of eleven months. They included Public Accounts Committee, Finance Committee, Privilege Committee and Assurance Committee. These 11-member committees will elect their chairmen.

Sindh Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr Sikandar Mahendaro laid 2013-14 budget expenditure of revenue and expenditure before the house. The minister also introduced two government bills – The Sindh Criminal Prosecution Service (Constitution, Functions & Powers) (Amendment) bill 2014 and The Sindh Shaheed Recognition and Compensation Bill, 2014. The house which was called in order by Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani also carried question and answer hour of Women Development Department and was adjourned till Tuesday morning.