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Council of Common Differences: Center & Sindh clash on key issues at CCI meeting

Key differences appeared on in Indus water and development projects in the province being funded by the federal government.

ISLAMABAD: The differences between federal government and Sindh government widened during the last Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting. The key issues remained Sindh share and the power policy.

The Centre and Sindh could not reach a consensus on important national issues discussed at a meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) on Thursday, including the National Electricity Policy 2021, share in Indus water and development projects in the province being funded by the federal government.

The meeting was presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan. The CCI will meet again on Monday to address Sindh’s reservations.

According to the Prime Minister Office, the 46th meeting of the CCI discussed in detail the draft National Electricity Policy 2021. “It was decided to constitute a committee to further deliberate upon the proposed policy and present the final draft before the CCI in its next meeting on Monday,” said a press release issued by the PM Office.

The committee comprises the ministers for finance, energy and law, PM’s special assistant on power and four chief ministers.

A source in the PM Office told media that Sindh has some 15 objections over the new electricity policy which had been addressed and the province’s demands would be incorporated in the draft policy. He said the policy was likely to be approved by the CCI on Monday.

Committee formed to deliberate on proposed national electricity policy; PM chairs meetings on EVM, Ravi Urban City project

On the other hand, a representative of the Sindh government said the province wanted old 2015 tariff of Rs5-7 per unit on renewable energy being produced in Sindh, especially wind energy. However, the prime minister insisted that a new tariff would be enforced in the electricity policy, which is around Rs3.50 per unit.

On the issue of Indus River water share, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said the inspectors being deployed at water releasing and receiving points of the river always favoured Punjab and presented inaccurate data of water that benefited Punjab.

He said these inspectors showed more water than what was being received by Sindh from the system and showed less water than what was being obtained by Punjab.

Mr Shah said that according to a Supreme Court judgement, the Centre could not initiate development works in a province as it was a right of the provincial government. However, he added, the federal government was executing development activities in some parts of Sindh.

Besides, Prime Minister Khan directed the authorities concerned to complete the process of electoral reforms and electronic voting system for overseas Pakistanis at the earliest.

Chairing a meeting on use of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM), the prime minister said overseas Pakistanis were an asset of the country and must be involved in the election process. “The only option to ensure transparency in the election process is the use of EVMs,” he added.

The prime minister was given a detailed briefing on the EVM and legislation in electoral reforms.

PM Khan reiterated his commitment to ensuring transparency in the use of EVMs in the electoral process, after meeting all constitutional requirements. He said the government was committed to ensuring transparency in the electoral process.

Project of Ravi Urban City

Presiding over another meeting to review the progress on Ravi Urban City and Central Business District projects, the prime minister asked the authorities concerned to devise a comprehensive strategy on wastewater treatment to ensure supply of clean water to urban population and for agricultural purposes.

The prime minister stressed the need for installation of wastewater treatment plants, especially in major cities. He said that in cities like Lahore, the use of modern technology was important to meet the shortage of water for growing population.

The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, PM’s special assistant Shahbaz Gill, Naya Pakistan Housing Authority chairman retired Lt Gen Anwar Ali Haider, Ravi Urban Development Authority CEO Imran Amin, Lahore Development Authority vice chairman S.M. Imran Amin and senior officials.

The prime minister was informed that development work on Sapphire Bay would be initiated soon after the finalisation of the contract next week. The process regarding approval of an industrial zone will be completed by June to be followed by construction of the infrastructure.

Educational institutions, including Iqra University, University of Management and Technology and ISC, will set up their campuses in Ravi City. Iqra University has shown interest in building a hospital there.

The meeting was also briefed on the transfer of three water plants by the Water and Sanitation Authority to Ravi City and the use of modern technology for wastewater treatment. The participants were also updated on the directives issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Judicial Water Commission to expedite the approval process of Ravi Urban City project.

It was highlighted that a quota for local populace had been reserved for jobs under the Ravi City project and around 100,000 households would benefit from it. Also, the locals will get medical treatment on 50 per cent concession.

On the Central Business District project, the meeting was informed that the auction process would start in the first week of July 2021.

A board has already been established for the Central Business District project, which in consultation with Nespak and Frontier Works Organisation, would finalise a design, with the development work set to begin next week.

Ahmed Mukhtar Naqshbandi

Media person and communication expert for over 25 years. Worked with Dow Jones News, World Bank, CNBC Pakistan, Aaj TV, ARY TV, Abbtakk TV, Business Recorder, Pakistan Observer, Online News Network, TTI Magazine and other local and world Publications.

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