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Murad wants long-delayed NFC award announced forthwith

MIRPURKHAS/MITHI: Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Tuesday urged the federal government to finalise and announce the 9th National Finance Commission (NFC) Award without any further delay, arguing that “it has nothing to do with the population census”.

Mr Shah was speaking to newsmen in Naukot town, which he visited to condole the death of MNA Faqeer Sher Mohammed Bilalani’s mother.

The chief minister said that the 9th NFC Award had already become overdue but the federal government was further delaying it on the grounds that the population census should be held first. He, however, expressed his confidence that the award would be announced soon. “The previous award was announced during the Pakistan Peoples Party government and the new one will also come within its term,” he said. He held out the assurance that the 9th award would be even better than the previous one.

He said that the Sindh government was disappointed by the delay being caused by the Centre in finalising the award. He noted that the smaller provinces were desperately waiting for it. “It should be announced forthwith,” he said.

In reply to several questions regarding powers of local government representatives, the CM said that the Sindh assembly had already discussed the issue, adding that LG representatives would get all powers as provided under the relevant law.

When his attention was drawn to the protest, for more than 40 days now, by residents of villages falling close to the Thar coal project sites with regard to a reservoir believed to be hazardous for cultivable land as well as public health, Mr Shah said that reservoir was being laid according to its feasibility. “The mega project was extremely beneficial to the entire population of Tharparkar,” he said, adding that the provincial government was supposed to ensure provision of every facility required for the execution of the project because it would ultimately benefit the people of Thar in particular and Sindh in general.

The chief minister said that Thar coal was a national project and, as such, people should prefer national interests over their personal ones. “Some sacrifices will have to be offered by everyone of us in the greater national interest, progress of the country and our own prosperity,” he said, adding that he did realise the problems being faced by the people of Thar at this stage.

In reply to a question about water shortage, Mr Shah said that more allocations were being made in the budget to ensure availability of adequate irrigation water to the tail-end areas. He said the problem would hopefully be resolved soon.

Responding to some questioners, the CM said that he was visiting Tharparkar to apprise himself of the problems being faced by the local population. “We will soon announce the ‘Thar package’ aimed at development of this desert region,” he added.

Earlier, Mr Shah drove to Fakeer-jo- Dhoro village, some 45 kilometres from Mithi and visited the Bilalani family to offer his condolence to MNA Faqeer Sher Mohammed Bilalani on the recent demise of his mother.

Speaking to newsmen in the village, Mr Shah said his government was fully committed to provide all basic amenities to the people of Tharparkar.

Some local newsmen also asked the CM about possibility of a settlement between residents of Gorano (and about a dozen other villages) and the mining company with regard to the site of the controversial reservoir. Mr Shah said that the site selected for the reservoir was the only one found feasible and, therefore, the reservoir could not be shifted to any other site.

He said he had formed a three-member committee comprising Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla, Senator Gayanchand and MPA Dr Khatoo Mal Jeevan to persuade the villagers to end their protest.

Manzoor Wassan, Imdad Pitafi and other senior PPP leaders accompanied the chief minister during his visit.

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