Sindh Cabinet Approves Increase In Abiana, Water Charges To Meet M&R Expenditures


Sindh Cabinet approves increase in Abiana, water charges to meet M&R expenditures

The provincial caretaker cabinet in its meeting held under the chairmanship of Sindh Chief Minister Justice (Retd) Maqbool Baqar has made some decisions, including increasing the rate of Abiana and water, surveying unsurveyed land, rewriting the record of rights, and agreeing that the land of Pakistan Steel Mill can be used for industrial purposes by the federal government

KARACHI, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 20th Feb, 2024) The provincial caretaker cabinet in its meeting held under the chairmanship of Sindh Chief Minister Justice (Retd) Maqbool Baqar has made some decisions, including increasing the rate of Abiana and water, surveying unsurveyed land, rewriting the record of rights, and agreeing that the land of Pakistan Steel Mill can be used for industrial purposes by the federal government.

The meeting was held at CM House on Tuesday and was attended by provincial cabinet ministers, Chief Secretary Dr Fakhre Alam, Chairman P&D Shakil Mangnejo, Secretary Local Govt Manzoor Shaikh, Secretary Finance Kazim Jatoi and others.

The cabinet agreed that the land of Pakistan Steel Mills could be used by the federal government for establishing an Export Processing Zone.

However, there is a condition that the land must be used only for industrial purposes. It should be noted that during 1973-74, the Sindh government granted land to Pakistan Steel Mill. At present, Pakistan Steel Mills is using/controlling 13344.34 acres of land.

Minister for Irrigation, Ishwar Lal told the cabinet that the Abiana Rate and Water Supply Rate needed to be gradually increased to meet the Maintenance & Repair (M&R) requirement of irrigation infrastructure.

The Abiana (water charges) recovery is much less than the M&R expenditure for reasons, including Abiana are very much on the lower side and were revised in the year 1999.

The average annual Abiana collection is Rs 528.45 million against the average annual M&R expenditure of Rs 4,464.77 million.

As per Sindh Irrigation Department study 2014, the average annual M&R requirement is Rs 11353 million.

Secretary Irrigation Niaz Abbasi giving a comparison of the Sindh and Punjab rates said that Sindh collected abiana for wheat at Rs 53.3 per acre in 1999, 2021 and 2024 while Punjab collected Rs 150 in 2021 and Rs 400 in 2024.

Similarly, Sindh collected Rs 181.87 in 1999, 2021 and 2024 for Sugarcane while Punjab collected Rs 250 in 2021 and 1600 in 2024.

The cabinet was told that the rate of Sindh for Cotton remained at Rs 93.09 per acre while Punjab has 250 in 2021 and Rs 1000 in 2024.

The abiana rate for Rice in Sindh was Rs 88.78 while the Punjab has a rate of Rs 250 in 2021 and Rs 2000 in 2024.

Similarly, the abiana rates for vegetables, fodder and orchards in Sindh are 142.14, Rs 53.3 and 142.14 respectively while the rate in Punjab is Rs 1200, Rs 400 and Rs1000 in 2024 repetitively.

The cabinet approved an increase of the abiana rate for Crops and water charges for Municipal/Domestic, Industrial and Commercial uses by 100 per cent.

The current rate for Abiana is Rs 53 (Riverine water) and Rs 363 (Tube well and Lift Machine) per acre and it would be increased to Rs106/726 per acre.

The water rates for Municipal/domestic rates are Rs 0.50 per 1000 gallons and the new rate would be Rs 4 per 1000 gallons which shows a 800 percent increase.

The water rate for industrial/commercial is Rs 1.0 per 1000 gallons and its new rate would be Rs 8.0 per 1000 gallons.

The cabinet observed that the Municipal Corporations, water board, WASA and even industrial areas of Karachi, Hyderabad and. Sukkur do not pay a single penny of water to the irrigation department.

The cabinet was told that Survey work would be started in each district, for which 32 Survey teams were being constituted comprising one Revenue Surveyor six Tapedars and an Inspector of Revenue and City Surveys.

Every survey team would be equipped with a DGPS and other allied accessories including an operator.

At the end of the day, the work done by the field survey teams would be sent in soft format to the Lab.

The Lab is to be established at the Directorate, which would process data and prepare the land records, and then the record so prepared will be sent to the DC concerned and Mukhtiarkar Estate for authentication.

City Survey; Due to the influx of the rural population to the urban areas, a sufficient number of towns require to be city surveyed for extension of existing survey or new survey.

City survey operations are proposed to be conducted at the Divisional, District and Taluka Headquarters (153 in total) to prepare the necessary Record of the Rights of the residents and also to keep proper account of the Government lands.

The scope of re-writing includes special revision of old Land Records through online portals VF-VIIA, VF-II and VF-I.

Minister Revenue Younus Dhaga told the cabinet that Re-writing committees for record of rights would be constituted.

The Verification committees would also be formed to carry out such multidimensional tasks, it is proposed that the Directorate of Survey and Settlement, BOR start the operation/work within the available man power, however, additional technical assistance from the market would be required, to meet the necessities.

The cabinet approved the plan and its budget of Rs 2,922.19 million, however, the chief minister said that during the current financial year 2023-24, 10 per cent of the total amount that came to Rs 290 million would be released while the remaining 90 per cent amount of Rs 2632.19 million would be allocated in the next financial year budget (2024-25) accordingly.

Recruitment of Sub-registrars: The cabinet approved an amendment in the Sindh Registration Rules 1940 to pave the way for the recruitment of sub-registrars through the Sindh Public Service Commission.

Sub-Registrars are appointed 50 per cent by promotion from Senior Clerks who have passed the departmental examination and 50 per cent through initial appointment.

The departmental examination is conducted internally by the IG Registration.

SMBR Zahid Abbasi said that to meet the requirement of e-registration and improve efficiency, the department proposes amendments to the Sindh Registration Rules, 1940, regarding the initial appointment, conduct of departmental examination, and training for Sub-Registrars.

According to the amendment the initial appointment and departmental examinations of the Sub-Registrar will be conducted/made through the Sindh Public Service Commission. Only departmental examination-qualified senior clerks will be eligible for promotions to Sub-Registrar. Sub-registrars appointed through initial appointment must pass the departmental examination for confirmation into service. The Training Management & Research Wing, SGA & CD will conduct academic training for six months, and departmental training will be conducted for the remaining six months.

Free Text Books & exam fee: Minister of Education Dr Rana Hussain told the cabinet that Sindh Education Foundation (SEF) has 2723 eduactional institutions with an enrolment of 890,000.

To meet the demand of textbooks for the 890,000 students of Foundation Assisted Schools, the STBB has worked out and demanded an amount of Rs. 964 million in the current year.

Secretary Education Ms Shireen Narejo requested the cabinet to grant additional funds Rs.500 million for the provision of Textbooks for SEF Schools and Rs.140 million for payment of Board Examination Fees as applicable on the Foundation’s Schools / Centre(s) during the current financial year 2023-24 and make it part of regular budget from next financial year. The cabinet approved the funds.

Caretaker Health Minister Dr Saad Niaz told the cabinet that the NICVD has requested a grant of Rs628.311 million for the purchase of MRI Machine. The cabinet after discussion approved the funds and ordered their release.

Recruitment of officers & Vaccinators: Minister Health Dr Saad Niaz told the Cabinet that four officers and 455 vaccinators were required to be recruited on a contract basis for one year for strengthening of EPI under the World Bank disbursement link indicators in Sindh Health Support Program (SHSP), a Foreign Funded Project.

The cabinet approved the proposal and accorded the permission to start recruitment on merit.

Secretary Energy Rehan Baloch said that Karachi Water Board has requested for shifting of its 42 sewerage pumping station K.Electric Feeders from high losses feeders to low loss (load shedding feeders). The shifting of the feeders would cost around Rs324.46 million. The cabinet approved the funds and directed the energy department to get the feeders shifted at the earliest.

The CM said that the

HDA Employees dues: Minister Local Government Mubeen Jumani told the cabinet that a grant in aid of Rs500 million was required to clear the pending pension, salaries, service benefits and other ancillary matters of the employees of Hyderabad Development Authority.

The CM said that the retired employees of KMC and even KDA were approaching him for payment of their pensions and retirement benefits. He approved Rs500 million for HDA employees.

On the recommendation of the Local Govt department and the cabinet the CM approved Rs3000 one-time grant-in-Aid for KDA to clear outstanding due of its working and retired employees.

The cabinet also approved Rs300 million for payment of salaries to the employees of Sehwan Development Authority.

Rehabilitation of Islamkot RO Plant: The provincial cabinet on the request of the Public Health Engineering Department approved Rs434.109 million for the rehabilitation of 1.5 MGD mega RO plant Islamkot, District Tharparkar. A technical team of NED andMehran Universities had assessed the rehabilitation cost, therefore the amount was approved to start the repair and maintenance work.

The provincial cabinet on the request of the Forest department approved Rs51.216 million for 23 candidates/Range Forest Officers (BS-16) selected through SPSC to send them to Pakistan Forest Institute Peshwar for a four year couse.

The provincial cabinet on the request of the Irrigation Department approved the extension of $71.7 million IDA credit upto June 2028. Under the credit facility Guddu and Sukkur barrages would be rehabilitated.

Law Minister Omar Soomro told the cabinet that additional funds of Rs167 million were required for the installation of Floor Air Conditioners in the High Court. The cabinet approved the funds.

Secretary Local Govt Manzoor Shaikh briefing the non-ADP scheme has been prepared to construct Road from from Ahsanabad to High Court Housing Society Scheme-33 Karachi for Rs99.945 million. Karachi Development Authority would execute the scheme. The chief minister said that the scheme would be funded by the local government department from its intra-sectoral savings.

Minister Revenue Younus Dhaga told the cabinet that the Survey Superintendents of Karachi, Khairpur, Larkana, Mirpurkhas and Land Records Officer, Hyderabad have reported that un-assessed land approximately 4.5 million acres is available in their divisional jurisdictions for surveying.