SC gives Sindh govt three weeks for report on Thar drought

CJ Nisar considers visiting Mithi hospitals on Sunday, says issue needs solution ‘on war footing’

22

Tauseef Abbasi

Islamabad

The apex court has asked the Sindh government to tender a report within three weeks on the prevalent drought situation in Thar and elsewhere within the province.

Expressing his displeasure over the government’s reluctance to tackle the issue, Chief Justice (CJ) Saqib Nisar on Thursday directed the provincial government for a comprehensive report on the issue.

A three-member bench of the SC headed by CJ Nisar took up hearing of the case pertaining to the drought in the desert areas of Sindh.

At the outset of the hearing, Sindh chief secretary told the top court the food, water provisions had been delivered to the residents of Tharparkar. “Items including rice, wheat and containers of fresh water are being provided to the residents of Mithi,” he said.

The secretary further apprised the court that around 60 per cent of the population in Thar lived below the poverty line, which contributed much to the apocalyptic conditions. He said the issue did not lie with the provisions; the method of delivery was vexing for the authorities since the area is sparsely populated and the patches of populations are scattered wide.

“The fact that men in the area have a larger share in the food and water than women is also very problematic for the Sindh Food Department,” he said.

Directing the secretary to ensure provisions of other basic necessities to the troubled people, Nisar stressed that the quality of the provisions should not be unhealthy and poor. “It is the state’s responsibility to solve problems of the people,” he said.

Regarding the severe issue of malnutrition and stunting in Mithi, the CJ lamented that newborns were dying of food shortage and the government had yet to take concrete steps to combat it. He also said that he had been deliberating on a visit to the hospitals in Mithi on Sunday. “This issue needs solutions on war footing,” he said.

Nisar also appealed to Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to allocate part of the budget for the betterment of the residents of Thar.

SC forms commission on climate change

The apex court on Thursday constituted a climate change commission on pattern of the water commission.

Hearing the case pertaining to the environmental pollution at the SC, the top judge remarked that there was a need for a climate change commission in the country that would function identical to that of the water commission.

Commending efforts made by the chief of water commission Justice (Retd) Ameer Hani Muslim, CJ Nisar suggested the climate change commission could be headed by  academic Dr Pervez Hassan.

The academic responded that he had suggested his own name for as the head of the commission.

Hassan told the court that he was ready to work and would welcome a decision of forming the committee with his handpicked people.

The apex court officially appointed Dr Hassan as the chairman of the climate change commission, with administrative authorities par with that of the chief justice.

The body will work to tackle the issue of climate change in Pakistan. All public sector departments are bound to facilitate the commission in its functioning, the court ordered.

The court allowed the academic to choose members of his team, saying that the provincial government would pay for all the expenses. It further said that anyone who had reservations on the committee and its formation could approach the SC.