AGP assures SHC of addressing Sindh’s reservations on Islands issue

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The federal government won’t start developing islands in Sindh without taking the provincial government into confidence first, Attorney-General Khalid Javed told the Sindh High Court on Friday.
The court is hearing multiple petitions filed against the federal government taking administrative control of Sindh’s islands. The petitions are also against an ordinance that created the Pakistan Islands Development Authority. Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Arshad Hussain Khan are hearing the case. The September 2, 2020 ordinance was passed without the approval of the Senate and National Assembly as they were not in session as “the president of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is satisfied that circumstance exist which render it necessary to take immediate action.” One of the petitions was filed by lawyer Jibran Nasir on behalf of environmentalists and environment activists Syed Yasir Husain, Ahmad Shabbar, and Syed Jamil Hassan Kazmi and argues that the mangroves along Sindh’s coastline. The federal government’s jurisdiction begins after 12 tidal miles, argued Nasir. He said in his petition that the development work will affect the mangroves.
The Indus Delta in Sindh, which is the sixth-largest in the world, is home to 97% of mangroves in Pakistan, said the petition. The Bundal and Buddo islands are a part of the Indus Delta and spread over 12,000 hectares which is more than the size of Karachi’s Defence Housing Authority and hosts about 3,349 hectares of mangrove forests.
Advocate Shahab Usto, another environmentalist, said after the court notice, the federal government issued two more advertisements. Attorney-General Javed said this issue cannot be resolved by filing petitions. The Sindh Assembly passed a resolution against the Ordinance and we respect that, he said, clarifying, however, that the federal government isn’t doing anything outside the law.
The environment and mangrove issues are important and we are looking into them, he said, adding that no development work has started. The federal government is in talks with the Sindh government and will work with their cooperation, said the federal law officer. “Whatever work is done there, we will take the provincial government into confidence.”
However, Assistant Advocate General Shehryar Mahar, the provincial government’s law officer, said the Sindh government has given its opinion on this. “It is not being taken into confidence.” The Sindh Assembly has also passed a resolution against the Ordinance, he reminded the court.Attorney-General Javed said the federal government will work with the provincial government and if needed, amendments can be made to the Ordinance.

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