15th April, 2011
UMERKOT, April 14: Shabby roads, heaps of garbage strewn at every nook and corner and rundown water and sewerage system are popular sights of Umerkot, the gateway to Thar and an international border connecting Pakistan with India.
Ruptured pipelines and overflowing gutters is an everyday sight. These conditions exist despite an unspent amount of Rs160 million was lying in the account of administrator of Umerkot taluka. The local government (LG) system though had flaws but was thousand times better than the present one, said saner elements of the society.
Funds can be spent on beautification and other development work after the consent of local MNAs and MPAs, said TMO/taluka administrator Umerkot town. Faulty sanitary conditions were giving rise to cases of gastroenteritis and other water-borne diseases.
Former UC-II Nazim Muhammad Ramzan Rajar appreciated the compatible system of governance during the LG rule and blamed some officials in bureaucracy of disbanding it with the intentions of keeping all powers with them instead of devolving these at the grassroots level. He agreed that some powers were misused during the LG rule and local laws could not be implemented fully which developed a negative concept towards the system.
“Delay in local elections has stalled the development process of democratic leadership giving rise to bad governance. It is also true that some nazims followed the policy of favouritism and nepotism even then the system was good because elected representatives could be easily approached. However, now, public can`t put their cases before ministers, MNAs and MPAs as they mostly remain in Islamabad or Karachi,” he said adding that whenever they visit their constituencies there`s already a hoard of applicants and public woes remain wherever these are.
He said that women were given a representation in the LG system and they strived for resolution of problems of their respective areas. Now, not a single woman had been incorporated even in district development committee. Financial constraints were not letting the ruling parties to conduct LG elections in their provinces.
A local writer, Amjad Mehdrani condemned the LG system as it failed in coming up to the expectations of people. He contended that union council nazims were elected by the votes of people but taluka and district nazims were imposed. They were the implementers belonging to corrupt politics and in the habit of committing blunders though receiving enough of funds in yearly budgets.
“The town is being supplied contaminated water after remaining parched for 10 days but no one has raised a voice over it, he said. It is bereft of chlorination and filtration and what to say of condition persisting in union councils and villages.”
A representative of Free and Fair Election Network Yunus Bandhani explained that the LG system had become a provincial subject under the 18th Amendment and the government wanted to hold elections through revenue and local government ministry. However, it agreed to conduct LG polls under the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) after coming under pressure.
He quoted an ECP official saying that the Commission demanded a hefty sum for LG elections but the cash-strapped government refused and now it was clear the polls were unlikely to be held in the coming year, even if provincial governments agree to set aside their political differences.
The demand of MQM to retain nazim system and PPP`s to revert to old commissionrate system had delayed the process, he said.
TMO/ taluka administrator Abdul Jalil when questioned about the sanitation, water and sewerage and non-utilisation of Rs160 million, replied that the TMA was facing staff shortage, including sanitary staff, drivers, plumbers, fire fighters and others. He had only 116 staffers as against the required 300. Funds can be utilised on receiving proposed schemes and work from local MPAs and MNA s.
Provincial Minister Syed Ali Mardan Shah said that the MPAs and the MNAs had proposed the schemes to the TMA and now it was up to them to start work.