PA passes Rs 21.67bn supplementary budget

* House again echoes with issues of southern province, Kalabagh dam, LG polls

LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly (PA) on Thursday passed the Rs 21.67 billion supplementary budget for 2013-14 with a majority vote while the House was once again echoed with issues of a separate southern Punjab province, local government elections and Kalabagh dam construction.
The opposition moved four cut motions on demands for grants for the supplementary budget but the House rejected all of them with a majority vote. Anyhow, the opposition strongly opposed allocation of extra amounts under 41 heads of the provincial government.
Speaking in favour of cut motions, opposition members, including Ahmad Khan Bhachhar, Dr Waseem Akhtar, Rahila Anwar, Arif Abbasi, and Sadia Sohail Rana, highlighted various other issues. While they called the budget “a bureaucratic document”, they held discussion on it as “a cosmetic exercise”.
PTI’s Ahmad Khan Bhachhar said that a decision about the right or wrong construction of Kalabagh dam should be made. He said that due to shortage of water, country’s crops, especially wheat and cotton, would suffer in coming years if Kalabagh dam was not built.
Supporting the demand for construction of Kalabagh dam, JI’s Dr Waseem Akhtar said that India was involved in ‘Water Terrorism’ against Pakistan after constructing dams on Indus, Chenab and Jhelum Rivers. He maintained that India also wanted to desert the agriculture lands of Pakistan in order to destroy its economy. He said that a director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) had told him in an exclusive meeting in Islamabad that India was investing around Rs 19 billion on media campaigns against Kalabagh dam and also on separatists of Balochistan Province.
He said that Jamaat Ali Shah, former Indus Water Commissioner of Pakistan, was a traitor, who had silently sold out water of Pakistani rivers to India to construct dams. 
He said that Shah had run away and that no one had asked him any thing in this regard.
He also warned that India was making a conspiracy in association with the Afghan government to withhold the water of Kabul River to make the Pakistani lands deserted.
Dr Akhtar also demanded the speaker to restore the parliamentary committee on Kalabagh dam for developing a consensus among all of the four provinces to construct the dam in order to fulfill water and electricity needs of the country.
He also said that southern Punjab areas were backward because they were ignored in allocation of funds for development projects. He said that the previous Punjab Assembly had already passed a resolution in favour of establishment of a separate province of Southern Punjab and Bahawalpur to fulfill the demands of the people of those areas.
PTI’s Arif Abasi demanded the government to hold local government elections to improve the municipality system and also to use the municipality funds in an efficient and productive manner. He said that municipalities were not using the public money on development scheme properly.
Earlier, the session started one hour and one minute late to its scheduled time of 10am. After completing the agenda, Finance Minister Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman announced two-month salary as bonus for employees of the PA secretariat.
Later, the speaker prorogued the session for indefinite period. 

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