Tuesday, October 12
Lahore’s sewage system is insufficient
In the absence of the local governments, and when there is nothing in sight as such since the PML-N is wishing to prolong the LGs’ absence, then the Punjab Assembly is virtually made to discuss ‘naalis’, tubewells, water supplies and sewage in metropolises and small towns.
This is exactly what happened at the provincial assembly on Monday when the members earnestly discussed issues to be resolved by the district and tehsil councils during the Question-Hour regarding Housing, Urban Development and Public Health Engineering Departments. Resultantly, after this Hour and replies by Law Minister Rana Sanaullah to Call Attention Notices, Adjournment and Privilege Motions, the government business could not be initiated. Secondly, the pending general discussion from the last Friday regarding relief and rehabilitation of flood-affectees could not start even though it was supposed to be concluded.
The added factor to all this was Parliamentary Secretary HUD&PHED Zafar Iqbal Nagra, who performed poorly to perfection. Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal kept on clarifying statements and questions for Nagra, who repeatedly read and re-read answers provided by the Assembly secretariat and from the officers’ gallery. His standing posture of putting his left hand on his waist under shirt was a continuation of his previous outing in June this year. His pronunciation of Urdu and English was equally bad – enterview instead of interview. Again he did not forget to consider supplementary questions as ‘fresh’ ones and asked for resubmission.
Nagra was also bitterly criticised when he irked a member with his contradictory reply since he was quoting opposite figures to what had been already provided to members.
Unlike last time, no minister came to his help and provided him breathing space from the onslaught of members. Secondly, perhaps, this ‘routine’ of unsatisfying answers and bad performance of ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries seems to continue till the Assembly lasts since nothing has changed over the last two years. At one point, Nighat Nasir Shaikh simply stopped herself from asking further questions by saying, “he gave unsatisfactory answer to previous query.”
However, during this bustle, Nagra told the Assembly that the sewage system of Lahore was insufficient to cater to the fast increasing population since a total of 5.397 million people were being facilitated through Water and Sanitation Agency’s existing system, which was actually laid down for a population of 3.5m. He further added that France and Japan were installing two mega water treatment plants sufficient for 10m population. “Currently, the govt is under taking three projects worth Rs 3.155 billion for improvement of the sewage system of Lahore, which will be completed by 2013. Another 13 short-term projects worth Rs 1.324bn are in the pipeline,” he added.
To Waseem Qadir’s question, Nagra said in 2005, the then Punjab government, for the first time, had formulated Punjab Site Development Housing Schemes Rules and subsequently implemented these. He also said the LDA, after a survey in 2008, also declared 131 housing schemes as fake and through Press advertisements informed the general public not to purchase plot in unregistered scheme as well as contact the Authority prior to buying land in a private schemes.