PA takes notice of water filtration plants scheme


LAHORE – Punjab Assembly (PA) Speaker Rana Iqbal, taking notice of non-completion of the water filtration plants scheme, announced on Friday that a committee will be formed to probe into the matter.
He said that members of provincial assembly (MPA) should know about the details related to the scheme and fixed Wednesday, March 30, as the date for holding an open debate on the issue. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) MPA Ashraf Sohna challenged the Punjab law minister for declaring the water filtration plants scheme as a fraud and vowed that he will prove Rana Sanaullah wrong.
As soon as the house proceedings started, the question hour related to local government and community development began. Punjab Local Government and Community Development Parliamentary Secretary Abdul Razzaq Dhillon could not provide satisfactory answers to any question.
Treasury MPA Nighat Nasir Sheikh asked the parliamentary secretary to inform the House about the status of water filtration plants at 150 union councils of Lahore. Dhillon said that 59 plants have been completed while work on rest of the 40 was in progress.
Treasury MPA Rai Ejaz said that only 38 plants were installed in Lahore on which the parliamentary secretary said that 52 out of 59 were operational. He said that the federal government promised to pay Rs 12.2 billion but paid only Rs 3.8 billion, which caused a delay in the completion of the plants. The parliamentary secretary said that all the contracts were signed by the federal government and even the contractors were given a clean chit for installing the plants.
Ashraf Sohna, on a point of order, defended the federal government saying that the parliamentary secretary should have come to the House with complete homework.
He said that according to the agreement, the federal government had made it clear that when the earlier provided funds worth Rs 3.8 billion will be spent, only then more funds will be provided. He challenged that Rs 4 billion are still pending with the local government for the last three years and even the Punjab government could not ensure third party evaluation of the installed filtration plants. Sohna questioned that why the Punjab government is depriving the people of the province of the facility of drinking water.
Sohna said that the Punjab government spent the provided funds and he on behalf of his party, guarantees for the provision of the remaining funds. He said that the federal government should not be blamed for the Punjab government’s bad governance and poor performance. Sanaullah, on a point of order, said that the Punjab government took timely action to avoid another fraud of billions of rupees. He informed the House that the funds were kept pending with the federal government, which it had obtained through foreign aid. The law minister informed the House that the PPP-led federal government signed the agreement for the installation of the filtration plants against the deal of Rs 3 million for single and Rs 8 million for double filtration plant while the actual worth of the same plant is just Rs 0.6 million in the open market. He said that why the Punjab government should purchase the plants on high costs while the same with better quality is available on very cheaper rates in the open market. On this Sohna requested the chair to form a committee to probe into the matter. Sanaullah said that he has no objection on formation of the committee but this issue should also be discussed in the house.
The parliamentary secretary, responding to another question about illegal parking stands and overcharging, assured the House of taking immediate notice. Treasury member Khawaja Imran pointed out the illegal parking stands situated at the Civil Secretariat. He said that overcharging at the same parking stand was also a regular feature. Another treasury member Shahzadi Umer Zadi also drew the attention of the House on overcharging at Liberty Market and others parts of the city. But the parliamentary secretary assured the House of taking stern action against all the contractors who were violating the rules. Dhillon failed to answer more questions asked by MPAs on which the speaker adjourned the house’s proceedings until Monday.