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Senators to have aerial view of damage caused by sea intrusion

Senators to have aerial view of damage caused by sea intrusion

ISLAMABAD: Members of a Senate committee will undertake a three-day visit from Monday to coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan to assess the damage being caused by sea intrusion and receive briefing from officials of two provincial governments to prevent a possible future disaster.

The visit is being undertaken by a three-member sub-committee of the Senate Standing Com­mittee on Planning, Development and Reforms, headed by Dr Karim Ahmed Khawaja of the PPP.

Jamaat-i-Islami Emir Sirajul Haq and Senator Mohsin Leghari are other two members of the committee which will “deliberate on steps, possible solutions and recommendations to secure coastal areas of Balochistan and Sindh from Karachi to Badin from sea intrusion in the light of the Vision 2025 (programme of the federal government)”, according to an agenda issued for meetings and visit of the committee.

The committee members with some other members of parliament belonging to major political parties of Sindh and Balochistan will also have an aerial view of the coastal areas in a Pakistan Navy helicopter.

Talking to Dawn on Sunday, Dr Khawaja said that the committee had invited over 60 MPs belonging to PPP, PML-N, MQM and Balochistan nationalist parties to attend meetings and give their input on the issue.

The PPP senator regretted that the Ministry of Planning and Development had constantly been insisting that the issue fell in the domain of provincial governments whereas provincial authorities were not aware of the gravity of the disaster.

He was of the opinion that the issue related to both federal and provincial governments and it should be part of the Vision 2025 Programme of the PML-N government.

Dr Khawaja said that officials of various federal and provincial departments, such as the planning and development, water and power, revenue, disaster management, National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco), Indus River System Authority (Irsa), coastal development authorities and irrigation department, would brief lawmakers on the issue.

The committee’s visit to coastal areas was earlier scheduled last month, but was postponed because of the Senate session which was convened to discuss the PIA issue.

In January, a number of experts had informed the Senate’s main committee that sea intrusion had already devoured about two million hectares of land along coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan.

According to a senior NIO official, Pakistan had 30 to 40 years to take mitigation measures.

An official of the Badin administration had disclosed that over 31,000 acres of land of the district had already been devoured by sea.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2016

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