HYDERABAD, June 28 (WNP): Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said if National Accountability Bureau arrested him, any member from among 99 elected representatives of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in Sindh Assembly will take his place as chief minister.
Talking to journalists after attending a briefing on damage caused by locust attack in Bhit Shah on Friday, the chief minister said that he was not afraid of arrest.
Imran Khan’s government had completely failed to deliver the goods as it had withheld Rs140 billion of Sindh’s funds forcing the provincial government to suspend work on several development schemes, he said.
He cautioned that if locusts were not decimated at this stage they might cause serious damage to agriculture sector. Locusts landed in Sindh from Balochistan after ravaging fields in Iran and the insects were now moving towards Matiari, Shahdadpur, Sanghar and Nawabshah, he said.
He recalled that in response to a similar attack previously, the department of plant protection (DPP) had been established and procured 17 planes to carry out aerial spray on the locust-infested area. Today, the department had only six out of 17 aircraft and of these, only one was operational, he said.
He said this plane conducted spray in Khairpur and then developed a fault after two days. It was now being repaired. In order to speed up the process, Sindh government had offered the federal government that it would bear all expenses for the extermination of locusts, he said.
He said the federal government had promised to release Rs665bn to Sindh but it gave Rs505bn and withheld Rs140bn. It was feared the federal government would not release the remaining funds, he said, adding Sindh government had drastically curtailed its non-development expenditures but it could not withhold salaries.
Mr Shah said PPP was committed not to allow space to undemocratic forces and it would try its level best to get rid of incompetent rulers.
Earlier, Hyderabad Commissioner Mohammad Abbas Baloch and other officers briefed the chief minister on the locust attack. The CM also visited Wasi Murad Shah village to assess the damage caused by locusts.
‘Locusts too few to pose serious threat’
NAWABSHAH: Mr Shah said in Shaheed Benazirabad that 19 teams of agriculture department were highly active and aerial spray was also being carried out in locust-infested areas although the insects’ number was not that high and they could not do much harm to standing crops.
He told journalists after visiting a locust-infested field in Khadar village near Sakrand on Friday that Sindh government was closely monitoring the situation round the clock and efforts were being made to exterminate the insect.
Earlier, Shaheed Benazirabad Commissioner Nisar Ahmed Memon informed the chief minister that most of the affected areas in the division had been cleared and there was no major loss to standing crops.
‘Locusts mainly attacked desert area’
KHAIRPUR: The chief minister tried to belittle threat to crops from locust attack saying the insects had landed on desert areas in Nara taluka and the government was making efforts to prevent them from entering cultivated areas.
He told reporters after visiting locust-infested area near Sirai Wahid Bux in Nara taluka that the attack had been controlled to a large extent and spray was being carried out to completely exterminate the insect.
Mr Shah said the attack had so far been limited to uncultivated areas and according to experts the problem would be resolved by November. The insects could however multiply in case of rains, he cautioned.
He said that Nara taluka comprised 12,000 square kilometres in which locusts had attacked 30 points and the threat had been removed from 17 of the points whereas spray was being done on 13 points.
Mr Shah was accompanied by Sindh Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Ismail Rahu, PPP MPA Sajid Bhanbhan, plant protection department deputy director Tarique Hussain and other officers.