Punjab PA discusses water shortage, price hike


LAHORE – The Punjab Assembly proceedings were inflicted by quorum issue again on Monday and this time the Pakistan People’s party (PPP) lawmaker Shaharyar Ali Khan pointed out the quorum just before the opening of the general discussion on price hike.
Meeting after a two-day break, under the chair of the Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal, the proceedings started about an hour and 25 minutes late
Following the recitation of the holy Quran and a naat, PML-Q forward block MPA Dr Tahir Ali Javed, on a point of order, drew the attention of the house over the recent increase in petroleum prices, asking for an open discussion on it in the house.
Terming the issue as ‘serious’, Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said if the house agrees, the speaker should allot separate time for general discussion on price hike.
Speaking on behalf of the Punjab government, Senior Minister Raja Riaz Ahmed asked the federal government to construct dams and the Mangla Canal in order to meet water needs of the province and control flood waters.
While concluding general discussion on irrigation, Raja Riaz, who also holds portfolio of minister irrigation, said that water was scarce because there were no dams and the farmers had to pump water using tube-wells, which is costly, and because sugarcane and paddy are planted throughout the year, adding that ‘water-theft’ was a major problem confronted by his department.
“So far 2030 persons have been arrested after registration of 2406 FIRs and the department has taken action against 230 officials aiding water-theft,” he mentioned, adding that acute shortage of funds was hampering the department’s working.
“After Rs 1.74 billion, Rs 2.74 billion were released for the department, which are insufficient,” he said.
Raja Riaz also added his lower field staff had no transportation to work round the clock. “We are appointing canal guards and we have sent a summary to the chief minister for hiring services of the police cops to control water theft,” he told the House.
He also pointed out the politicization of area boards, which was resulting in biased water distribution, and the failure of the PIDA plan. While mentioning that issues with IRSA had been resolved to maximum extent, he also assured the House that the remaining problems regarding water distribution among the provinces will also be resolved.