Another hitch pops up for foreign investment
By: Ramzan Chandio
SINHD: KARACHI – The controversy over the ownership of twin islands near Karachi has been resurfaced between the Sindh government and Port Qasim Authority, which allotted islands to the UAE-based company for establishment of Island city here.
The Bahria Foundation and UAE firm inked an agreement of US$20 billion to establish Island City on twin islands-Bundal and Buddo in sea near Karachi.
The controversy over the ownership arose during the PML-Q-led Sindh government of former Sindh Chief Minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim and Port and Shipping Ministry of federal government in 2006, when federal government unilaterally allotted the islands to the Emmar Company of UAE.
Then opposition and present ruling party PPP, nationalist parties and fishermen had launched a protest campaign against the allotment of twin islands to the foreign firm, which compelled the foreign company from taking over the control of islands.
However, the issue resurfaced between the Sindh government and Port Qasim Authority when foreign company and local company Bahria Foundation of Malik Riaz inked a deal just two days ago. Sources said that Sindh Board of Revenue has moved a summary to the Sindh chief minister, urging him to take a position not to allow the allotment of islands to the foreign company as federal government sealed a deal with the foreign company even without asking from the Sindh government, which is the owner of the islands. Sources said that the Sindh government had taken notice of the recent deal between the foreign firm and Bahria Foundation and decided to take up issue with the federal government.
The Sindh PPP ministers led by Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah met with President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday evening at Bilawal House and urged the President to resolve the matter.
It may be recalled that a committee comprising of then Attorney General Makhdoom Ali Khan from federal government and Sindh law secretary Ghulam Nabi Shah and officials of Board of Revenue Department held meetings in 2006 as both sides remained stick to their views and issue could not be resolved. The Board of Revenue Department through their documentary proof has been argued that the area of sea was given to the Port Qasim Authority during the government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto for operational purpose but ownership rights were reserved with the Sindh government. The PPP-led Sindh government while pleading same arguments raised the issue with President Asif Ali Zardari.
Meanwhile, the PPP ministers and MPAs have shown strong reaction over the sudden deal on the Sindh government’s property of twin islands-Bundal and Buddo near Karachi.
Sindh Culture Minister Sassui Palijo, Fisheries Minister Zahid Bhurgari, MPAs Humera Alwani and others opposed the deal on the islands and said that federal government had no right to allot the provincial government’s land to foreign company without asking the concerned government. It is expected that the lawmakers will raise the issue in Sindh Assembly on Wednesday (today).
Meanwhile, the nationalist parties Awami Tehreek, Sindh United Party, Sindh Taraqi Passand Party and Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz and fishermen communities led by Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum have also expressed strong reaction and announced to resist the project if launched at islands.
They said the allotment of the twin islands would negatively impact on the livelihood of fishermen community as investors definitely pushed them to leave the area.