The Caretaker Sindh Chief Minister, Justice (retd) Maqbool Baqar, has urged the federal government to issue orders to resume the work on the long-delayed project of Sukkur-Hyderabad M6 Motorway, whose recent progress was stymied by Rs5.8 billion land acquisition scam.
While chairing an official meeting in Sehwan, Jamshoro district, on Saturday, Baqar stated, “I know that the construction of M6 was halted because of the land acquisition scandal, but that [acquisition] process has been completed by the [concerned] committee in many sections [of the motorway].”
The CM asked the chief secretary to take up the M6 project matter with the federal government.
According to details, the scandal surfaced in November 2022 in Matiari and Naushehro Feroze districts, where the respective deputy commissioners, in connivance with public and private individuals, besides officials of Sindh Bank, allegedly forged the land purchase records.
The former DC Adnan Rasheed has been under arrest since November 2022, but the latter DC Tashfeen Alam escaped from Pakistan.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has filed corruption references against the two scams, whose inquiry is being merged into a single reference.
Meanwhile, Baqar also directed the divisional administration to facilitate the processes of delimitation and the general elections, support ongoing drive against electricity theft, and continue price control operations against hoarders and illegal profiteers.
He emphasised the need to address traffic congestion and parking problems and improve infrastructure, particularly parks and playgrounds.
He also directed the police to eliminate the menaces of gutka and maipuri in the division.
Briefing the chief minister, Sindh Peoples Housing for Flood Affectees (SPHFA), Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Khalid Shaikh, recalled that 24 districts in Sindh were declared calamity-hit in 2022 due to rains and floods, affecting 12.36 million people and damaging or destroying 2.1 million houses.
Shaikh apprised that around 50 per cent of the destroyed houses were built on state land and 31 per cent on private land.
As many as 596,793 houses, headed by women, have been verified for reconstruction so far in the province, added Khalid. Among these women, 121,817 are widows, 34,382 unaccompanied by elders, 4,250 have disabled husbands, and 3,020 are divorced, abandoned, or unmarried older women dependent on others.
Shaikh assured that his department would build around 600,000 houses by June 2024.
Speaking on the occasion, the commissioner Hyderabad said that some 105 kilometres of the 396km-long M6 Motorway will pass through Hyderabad division, requiring 2,428 acres of land.
The chief engineer of the irrigation department, Syed Sardar Shah informed the CM that 10 different rehabilitation projects in Shahbaz Division near Sehwan will be completed by December 2023.
Sindh Minister for Irrigation Ishwarl Lal, Chief Secretary Sindh Dr Fakhre Alam, Secretary Irrigation Niaz Abbasi, Secretary Works Nawaz Soho, Commissioner Hyderabad Khalid Hyder Shah, DIG Hyderabad Tariq Dharejo, CEO Peoples Housing Scheme, and other officials were also present on the occasion.
Earlier, the CM visited Syed Abdullah Shah Institute of Medical Sciences in Sehwan and Rural Health Centre (RHC) in Aarazi, a rural town, where he checked the operation theatre, recovery room, as well as the 30-bed intensive care unit.
Baqar expressed anger over the defective x-ray machine, unavailability of certain life-saving medicines, and poor maintenance of the RHC’s building, run by the Peoples Primary Healthcare Initiative (PPHI).
He also went to Aralh canal to check the rehabilitation of breaches made to drain Manchar water towards Indus River last year to prevent flooding.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th2023.