Sindh cabinet imposes ban on child beggary

KARACHI: The Sindh cabinet has imposed a ban on child beggary and directed the social welfare department to pick up children begging at traffic intersections and in streets and rehabilitate them at welfare centres.

A meeting of the cabinet, presided over by Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, was held at the New Sindh Secretariat on Tuesday. The meeting was attended by all the provincial ministers, advisers and special assistants to the chief minister. Sindh chief secretary Mumtaz Shah conducted the meeting.

The items on the agenda included a progress report on fixing price of wheat crop, discussion on a report about the existing legal provision on beggary, tariff differential subsidy to new captive power plants, constitution of a governing body of the Sehwan Development Authority, amendment to the Sindh Zakat & Ushr Act, and power of the provincial cabinet in financial matters. A presentation on the water position was given to the cabinet as an additional item.

CM wants helpline 1121 projected in the media to protect children’s rights

At the start of the meeting, the chief minister and the cabinet members expressed profound grief over the death of two small children who reportedly died from consumption of “poisonous food”. The chief minister directed the chief secretary to strengthen the food authority and start inspection of all food outlets.

CM’s Adviser on Law and Information Murtaza Wahab presented the findings of his committee on the beggary issue. The other members of the committee were Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho and Minister for Social Welfare Hari Ram.

The report said that there were enough laws available to deal with the issue. Section 7 of the West Pakistan Vagrancy Ordi­nance 158, for instance, prohibited beggary.

The report also pointed out that in 2011 the assembly had passed the Sindh Child Protection Authority Act 2011, which called for ensuring the rights of children in need of special measures.

Chief Minister Shah in consultation with the cabinet decided to ban beggary all over Sindh. He directed the social welfare department to launch a special campaign against child beggary.

Mr Shah directed the district administration and the police to help the social welfare department in the drive to be launched against child beggary and round up child beggars and send them to Sweet Home and Street Children Centre, Korangi, where they would be rehabilitated. “I want to provide them shelter, food, sports and education so that they could be made useful citizens of the country,” he said.

He also directed the social welfare department to make the Child Protection Authority an effective organisation. “Helpline 1121 must be projected in the media so that the common man could complain wherever the rights of a child are seen to be compromised,” he said, adding that in the next phase, another drive would be launched against beggary. “I don’t want to see any child stretching his hand for alms at the signals and in the streets,” he said.

It was pointed out that the Street Children Centre, Korangi, was nearing completion. The chief minister directed minister for works and services Nasir Shah to get it completed on war footings.

Disposal of wheat stocks

The cabinet also decided to dispose of Sindh’s wheat stocks of 1,745,815 tonnes at a release price of Rs3,315 per 100kg jute bag and Rs3,250 PP bag and it would put a Rs6.7 billion financial burden of subsidy on the provincial exchequer.

The chief minister had constituted a committee under Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah and the secretaries for finance and food as its members to recommend an issue price.

The committee presented its report on the stock position.

The cabinet discussed the tariff differential subsidy to the Sindh New Captive Power Plants (SNCPPs). It was told that the government had received claims of six SNCPPs amounting to Rs2.3bn.

The chief minister said that those six SNCPPs were located in rural areas such as Dadu, Shikarpur and Thatta and generating 103.7MW power and feeding it into the local grid.

When asked how much impact it had made on the loadshedding in small districts, Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh said that there was no such apparatus to assess their impact. The power they were generating was being fed into the national grid, therefore the assessment of its impact was quite difficult.

The CM directed the minister to make arrangements to assess the impact on local loadshedding and report it to him.

Mr Shah also said that the claimant NCPPs would furnish a chartered accountant certificate that all the subsidy claims were made in accordance with the act, rules, policy tariff, Nepra tariff and other related regulations. The cabinet approved a subsidy of Rs2.3bn for disbursement as per law.

Water shortage

Special Assistant to the Chief Minister on Water Ashfaq Memon told the cabinet that 38 per cent shortage of irrigation water for the current Rabi crop had been declared by the Indus River System Authority. There were apprehensions of an increase in the shortage.

The cabinet decided for comparatively higher supplies for sowing wheat crop during November and December. The supplies would be kept at the minimum during the last 10 days of December and to the end of January, taking advantage of the closures to save water for crops in February onwards. The supply of water in the canals, branches and distributaries would be made as per the rotation plans prepared by the regions concerned. Provision of water for drinking would be ensured regularly.

The cabinet also approved an amendment to the Zakat & Ushr law under which Karachi had been declared as the city of six districts so that distribution could be made accordingly.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2018