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‘The Sindh govt plants trees without telling the media’

August 18, 2019
 

The Sindh government plants trees, it just doesn’t call the media, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah assured reporters on Sunday.

He was inaugurating a tree plantation campaign at Frere Hall in Karachi when he was asked why this was one of the first campaigns his government had launched, compared to the PTI-led government which has made tree plantation one of its main promises. Prime Minister Imran Khan and members of the PTI have often spoken about his ‘Billion Tree Tsunami’. In comparison, the Sindh government hasn’t been seen planting many trees, or so one reporter said.

Next time we’ll make sure to call you, just so we can get some pictures out of it too, Shah laughed. On a serious note, he said they welcome everyone who is planting trees. I think we should plant trees in every empty space, he said.

When the questions veered towards the issue of cleaning the city’s drains, Shah said it is the KMC’s job. We don’t encroach on their responsibilities, but we do help them, keeping in mind their financial constraints, he said. The chief minister added that the Sindh government recently gave the KMC Rs550 million to clean the city’s drains. Garbage collection is the responsibility of the local councils, explained Shah.

Related: Murtaza Wahab wants Sindh to say no to plastic

The issue of garbage collection in Karachi and whose responsibility it is has been muddled for ages, with the Sindh government and local government pushing the issue onto each other. During his media talk, Shah said the garbage collection system is getting better but it’s still not optimal. In districts South and East it’s a bit better because the SSWMB (a Sindh government-run institution) is operating there, he said.

We have problems with contractors and within our own institution, he said, waving them off with a “it still needs to be better”.

He also congratulated the PTI for completing one year in government and said it brought higher petrol prices, a weaker exchange rate and crippling inflation with it. They don’t touch on the main issues, he believes. They focus on other, trivial things like standing in line to buy their own tickets and travelling on a road without protocol, he said. He summed up the PTI’s first year as “not memorable”. “Go forward. Govern,” he urged.

But when it came to his own performance this year, Shah turned the discussion to the federal government not letting the provincial government work. We have suffered, he said, explaining that under the law, a CCI meeting has to be held every 90 days but the last meeting was in October or November. The National Economic Council is supposed to meet twice a year but only met once last year, he said.

By not following the law, the federal government is creating a lot of pressure on provincial governments, making it difficult to work, he said. For the first time in Pakistan’s history, collections have decreased from last year, he said, asking the journalists how they liked it when their bosses cut their salaries in response to ‘hard times’. If you don’t like it, why would the rest of Pakistan, he asked.

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