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KARACHI: The provincial caretaker cabinet of Sindh, Tuesday made some decisions, including increasing the rate of Abiana and water charges, surveying un-surveyed 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 held under the chairmanship of Sindh Chief Minister Justice Maqbool Baqar 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 caretaker cabinet agreed that the land of Pakistan Steel Mills can be used by the federal government for the establishment of an Export Processing Zone.

Establishment of EPZ on PSM land by federal govt: Sindh govt concurs with SIFC

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 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/ water rates 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 Rs53.3 per acre in 1999, 2021 and 2024 while Punjab collected Rs150 in 2021 and Rs400 in 2024. Similarly, Sindh collected Rs181.87 in 1999, 2021 and 2024 for Sugarcane while Punjab collected Rs250 in 2021 and 1600 in 2024.

The cabinet was told that the water charges rate of Sindh for cotton remained at Rs93.09 per acre while Punjab has 250 in 2021 and Rs1000 in 2024. The Abiana rate for rice in Sindh was Rs88.78 while the Punjab has a rate of Rs250 in 2021 and Rs2000 in 2024. Similarly, the Abiana rates for vegetables, fodder and orchards in Sindh are RS142.14, Rs53.3 and 142.14, respectively while the rate in Punjab is Rs 1200, Rs400 and Rs1000 in 2024, respectively.

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 Rs53 (Riverine water) and Rs363 (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 Rs0.50 per 1000 gallons and the new rate would be Rs4 per 1000 gallons which shows 800percent increase. The water rate for industrial/ commercial is Rs1.0 per 1000 gallons and its new rate would be Rs8.0 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.

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. 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.

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.

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