• Sewerage schemes approved

    Thirty-two sewerage schemes to be completed at a cost of Rs623.706 million in Latifabad, city and Qasimabad Talukas have been approved by the District Nazim of Hyderabad, Kanwar Naveed Jamil. The decision was taken in a meeting held on Thursday at the District Nazim's Secretariat and attended by Chairman District Works and Services Committee Munawar Khanzai; Managing Director Wasa Mohammad Basheer Awan; deputy project directors HDP Kafeel Ahmed and Faheem Akhtar Junejo, and XENs. District Nazim directed the agencies to complete the schemes before monsoon and connect them with the expanded sewerage system. He ordered immediate beginning of work on the schemes. He said the district government in last two years spent billions of rupees to overcome sewerage problems which had haunted people for last so many years. The entire system was streamlined and modernised after construction of new pumping stations in three city Talukas, increasing capacity of the existing, and laying sewerage lines of bigger diameter, he said and added: "The approved schemes will be connected to new system to drain out rain water during rains.' The sewerage schemes approved were 17 for Latifabad Taluka and seven each for city and Qasimabad talukas which include laying of 12-inch diameter rising main from Thandi Sarak pumping station up to GOR Colony culvert which will cost Rs3 million. District Nazim also gave details of each new scheme in three talukas with an exact cost of each.

  • Rs.5 million disaster relief for three districts

    The Government has allocated Rs. 5 million from February 20 to Kalutara, Polonnaruwa and Matara districts to face natural disaster situations and to carry out relief assistance to victims, said Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services Minister Rishad Badiudeen. Accordingly Rs. 152,000 was allocated to Athuraliya Divisional Secretariat Division in Matara district for flood relief activities. The Government has also released Rs. 767,073 to Dimbulagala, Welikanda and Thamankaduwa Divisional Secretariat Divisions for relief works in case of sudden floods

  • Sindh confronts water shortage

    The Sindh Irrigation and Power Department said on Thursday that there would be a considerable shortage of water in the province due to low flows in the rivers. Sindh was getting only 20,400 cusec water as on Feb 28 as against its share of 37,500 cusec, thus the shortage had reached 45 per cent, said an official handout. To face the situation, the department has taken different measures to maintain supply of drinking water and allowed water flows for drinking purposes in Phuleli and Pinyari Canals. Supplies to Guddu Barrage canals and Sukkur Barrage canals would be reduced to 15,000 cusec and supplies to Kotri Barrage canals would be enhanced to 3,000 cusec to cater to drinking water requirements, which stood at 42 per cent, the handout said. The department would enforce intensive rotation of canal flows and the direct chief engineers and managing director of SIDA to announce rotation programme according to the availability. This intensive rotation programme would be enforced from March 1, 2008. The handout said that the department was taking the steps to judiciously share water to and control theft of water. It advised the farmers and all other people using irrigation water to use the available water carefully to avert losses.

  • EPA collecting air, water samples from sugar mills

    Samples of air and wastewater belonging to the sugar mills of Sindh are being collected by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials for the last two days to check whether they are polluting environment, especially air and water. One of the sugar mills releases its toxic waste in a waterway that finds its way into the upstream Kotri Barrage. The samples are being taken under the directives of EPA Director-General Abdul Malik Ghauri, who has sent three officials, Ashiq Ali Dhamrah, Jehangir Hussain and Mohammad Hashim. An EPA official from Hyderabad, Irfan Abbasi, and two environmental inspectors from the district concerned are part of the team that is visiting different sugar mills. It was learnt here on Tuesday that the team had so far visited six sugar mills and one alcohol-producing unit. The mills included the Al-Abbas Sugar Mills, Mirpurkhas Sugar Mills, Matiari Sugar Mills, Digri Sugar Mills and Najma Sugar Mills. Their air samples and wastewater samples have been collected. The officials are travelling along with a mobile laboratory that had been gifted to Pakistan by the Japanese government. While confirming that the testing of samples would take some time, Mr Ghauri said: "Some samples are analysed in the mobile laboratory while some are sent to us in Karachi so that they can be tested at the main laboratory.' He said that the samples were being checked so that the sugar mills would improve their environmental standard. An official of the team told Dawn that one of the sugar mills was releasing its wastewater in a waterway that finds its way into the upstream Kotri barrage. A report said that the exercise of testing of air quality has been initiated by EPA in view of the on-going sugarcane season which began in December and would continue for another couple of months. According to environmentalists, smoke emitted from the chimneys of sugar mills pollutes the air and it causes various problems for the people who live in their vicinity. Mr Ghauri said that first air and liquid samples would be analysed and then the sugar mills would be graded. When asked whether any proceedings would follow if the sugar mills were found guilty of environmental pollution, he replied: "Certainly notices will be issued to the relevant sugar mill if the quality of air emission and wastewater don't conform with the National Environmental Quality Standards.' According to water technologist Dr Ahsan Siddiqui, the wastewater of a sugar mill is released on its own open ground by the mills management. He, however, added that the mill in question had no right to do that because wastewater through seepage contaminated water contained in the sub-soil, which is a natural resource of water for people who obtained water through suction pumps.

  • Water rotation programme

    The executive engineers of Rohri and Nusrat irrigation divisions announced on Wednesday rotation programme for the channels under the divisions. According to an official handout, Rohri division's Sial Distributary, direct outlets from RD-22 to 60, Khushik Minor, Jatoi Minor, Bakhri Minor, Dad Branch Lundki Distributary, Jachero Minor, Mahaisar Minor, Haji Minor, Dasis Minor will be closed on Feb 29 and reopened on March 8. Direct outlets of Dehra Branch, Darbello Distributary, Dalpota Minor, Salehpur Minor, Manjuth Minor, Detha Minor, Old Keti Minor, Larik Minor, Pull Distributary, Jiskani Distributary-II would be opened on Feb 29 and closed on March 8, it said. The rest of the channels, which were already closed on Feb 21 would be opened on Feb 29, said the handout. The executive engineer of Nusrat Irrigation Division of Nawabshah also announced rotation programme for various irrigation channel under the division. According to an official press release, direct outlets of Nusrat Branch and off-taking channels and Amerji Branch system will be opened on Feb 28 and closed on March 6. Similarly, direct outlets of Nusrat Branch and off-taking channels would be opened on March 6 and closed on March 14, said the release. The direct outlets and off-taking channel of Nusrat Branch and Gajrah Branch system would open on March 14 and close on March 21, it said.

  • Farmers of Sindh reject wheat price

    Wheat growers have expressed disappointment over the wheat procurement price of Rs510 per 40 kg fixed by the government and expressed apprehensions that wheat might be smuggled to neighbouring countries if incentives were not offered to growers. Sindh Abadgar Board president Abdul Majeed Nizamani said the procurement price should have been between Rs700 and Rs800 per 40 kg in view of the fact that phosphate fertiliser (DAP) was available at Rs2,500 per bag. He said: "Wheat production can be increased by over 50 million maunds if an attractive procurement price is announced because there is still time to give some inputs to the standing crop. Wheat is cultivated on around 17 million acres of land.' He said wheat had not been cultivated on around five lakh acres due to the late harvesting of sugarcane and according to Sindh secretary agriculture's figures, wheat was sown on 20 per cent less land than the fixed target, and according to the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, the sowing was 15 per cent less. SAB general secretary Mahmood Nawaz Shah said that imported wheat cost Rs1,050 per 40 kg and the government should have fixed the price at around Rs650 per 40kg.

  • Anti-polio steps being intensified in Sindh

    Alerted by the detection of two new polio cases in Sindh, the provincial Expanded Programme on Immunisation has decided to intensify its operation and conduct a three-day sub-national immunisation campaign, beginning on March 4, throughout the province. Sindh EPI project director Dr Salma Kauser Ali told Dawn on Tuesday that the federal EPI and the WHO had agreed to bear the additional operational cost and ensure supply of the vaccines needed for the extension of the supplementary immunisation campaign. "Earlier we had planned the administration of anti-poliovirus drops in children up to five in areas including northern Sindh and Karachi, but now the whole of Sindh, except for the desert parts of Umerkot, Tharparkar and Sanghar districts, will be covered under the campaign,' she said. Replying to a question, she said polio workers and officials in Karachi were faced with a serious challenge of being a high-risk area as a couple of its towns, including Korangi, were being considered as exporters of the polio virus. Sindh has made considerable progress in eliminating polio from its limits, but there are 5-10 per cent of the deserving children who have been missed out during the immunisation campaigns. "We plan to reach about 6.5 million children during the planned campaigns, but we also expect supports from the community so that effective vaccines are administered to children on time,' Dr Ali added. WHO polio-eradication team leader in Pakistan Dr Nima Saeed Abid has said that coordination between the health sector and other departments needed to be optimised for an improved surveillance of the polio virus in Sindh. Dr Abid, who heads a group of WHO medical officers engaged in the polio-eradication programme of Pakistan, recently attended a monthly surveillance meeting of Sindh in the city. Various heads of the surveillance system on polio at the district level made presentations and discussed issues such as detection of a case of polio in Hyderabad and another in Nawabshah, capability and sensitivity of the surveillance system to detect all cases, missing cases, reduction or elimination of the gaps in the surveillance system, compatible cases and reasons behind them. Dr Abid told health officials about the observations made at a meeting of the technical advisory group (TAG) on polio- eradication recently held in Egypt, saying that genetic characteristics of some isolated viruses and surveillance field reviews indicated sub-optimal quality in some districts. The TAG meeting also noted that there had been significant progress in social mobilisation, while the quality of management, particularly in planning and supervision in some districts in the high-risk areas and discord between the coverage figures and virus circulation were the two components of the polio-eradication programme which were not reaching acceptable standards. Talking to Dawn after the Karachi review meeting, Dr Abid said there had been lapses in the programme and it was high time that they were rectified on a top priority basis. Maintenance of vaccines quality at the optimum level was also required through proper vaccine management, he said, adding that efforts should also be made to create public demands about both routine and supplementary polio immunisation drops. He stressed the management at district levels to ensure fool-proof surveillance and support for the polio-eradication programme. "Strong political commitment should be translated into action at the delivery level,' he added.

  • Toxic waste being dumped into river

    Discharge of untreated effluents from Khazana Sugar Mills has turned Shahalam River into a dead tributary causing water, land and air pollution in the surrounding areas of the provincial capital. Thousands of litres of hazardous waste are discharged into Shahalam, a tributary of River Kabul, daily during crushing season, which starts from December every year and continues till the end of March. Local people say that they cannot use the river water due to toxic waste. Khazana Sugar Mills which was privatised in mid-1990s situated near the river. Its crushing capacity is 4,000 tons per day, but presently it crushes over 2,000 tons of sugarcane daily due to lack of supply, says the management of the mills. The mills' manager administration Tali Mand said that over 200,000 tons of sugarcane had been crushed during current season. He said that the management had planed to build treatment plant before discharging the waste into the river, but the mills was going into losses which delayed the project. The mills' effluent is released into Shahalam River without treatment. Environmentalists said that hazardous substances discharged from the sugar mills absorbed oxygen from the water which caused water and air pollution. Residents of Khazana complain that discharge of untreated waste from the mills is not only polluting the river, but also causing severe air pollution. "We can hardly breathe because of the stink of effluents,' said Izatullah, a resident of Khazana. Industrial waste, he said, posed threat to aquatic life and every year killed thousands of fish in the river when the management washed the mills. Shahalam throws toxic waste of Khazana Sugar Mills into Kabul River. Provincial Environmental Protection Agency director general Dr Bashir Khan said that release of hazardous industrial waste into the river was a crime under the law and the agency would take legal action against the management of the mills. "The EPA inspectors will immediately visit the site and will serve notice on the mills' management,' he added. Under section 11(1) of the Environmental Protection Act, 1997 no person shall discharge or emit or allow the discharge or emission of any effluent or waste or air pollutant or noise in an amount, concentration or level which is in excess of the National Environmental Quality Standards.

  • Fears of water contamination by unsupervised culling in Malir

    Experts have called for a better surveillance of poultry birds and use of a foolproof mechanism for the detection of the Avian Influenza virus. They regretted the recent elimination and disposal of hundreds of birds suspected to be infected with the H5N1 virus at a Malir farm was carried out under no official supervision. The poultry farmers' association maintained that the owner of the affected poultry farm, Mashallah Poultry Farm, had been persuaded to cull his birds kept in a farm in the jurisdiction of the Malir cantonment board at the earliest. He had been told time was of the essence in containing the outbreak. Health and poultry officials said they remained helpless in taking measures on a war footing as they were not taken into confidence as soon as an outbreak was reported. Following reports about bird deaths in a large number at a poultry farm on the National Highway, the surveillance staff of the Sindh livestock department collected samples from birds suspected to be suffering from some severe diseases for various laboratory tests on Feb 21. The news that the samples had been tested positive at the national reference laboratory in Islamabad for the H5N1 virus was received in Karachi on the night of Feb 23. Those officials responsible for culling remained unaware of the development for a long time and had no idea that havoc was being wrought by

  • Protest over water shortage

    A large number of growers staged demonstrations for the second consecutive day on Monday in Thari Mirwah, Faiz Ganj and Kotdiji talukas in protest against shortage of irrigation water. In Thari Mirwah, the protesting growers and their leaders Mehmood Phull and Gul Mohammad said that there was no water in Mirwah Canal in the crucial months of February and March when wheat crop highly depended on water.They were force to make alternate arrangements for watering their crops through private tube-wells even though they had to pay abiyana (water tax) as well. Growers in Faiz Ganj said during a demonstration that their taluka was at the tail-end of Mirwah Canal, hence it received very little water. There was no water in the canals and minors of the taluka. Mohammad Sachal, Aijaz Hussain and Mir Mohammad Brohi told journalists that the irrigation system had collapsed due to shortage of water since last 15 years. In Kotdiji, growers led by the general secretary of Abadgars Ittehad, Faqir Niaz Bhambhro, staged a demonstration and said that the shortage would also affect the production of banana and mangoes besides wheat crop. A delegation of civil society and growers of Khairpur led by general secretary of Khairpur District Bar Association Abdul Qayoom Shaikh also protested on Monday. They said that Khairpur and its adjoining towns including Kotdiji, Kot Bungalow and Hussainabad had no drinking water due to closure of irrigation channels.

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