THIS year’s monsoon, that came a bit late, have caused less damage to key crops than they could if they had arrived earlier. Cotton has fallen victim to rainfall, sugarcane has rather benefited from it — and paddy has undergone a mixed experience.
By mid-August the country had received light rains in parts of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. So, young cotton crop was not damaged and paddy also remained almost unhurt. The real downpour came between the second half of August and the first half of September. By this time cotton crop in Sindh had become strong enough to withstand the rainfall wherever its intensity was not so strong and penetrating.
But in parts of Punjab where the plants had not attained full height heavy rains battered them. And in some areas where rains caused flooding of rivers and canals cotton growth was affected.
In places where paddy was being replanted the rains washed away the young and weak saplings. But where re-plantation had already taken place by mid-August and paddy stalks had grown stronger the story was different. As for sugarcane, the entire monsoon spell proved a blessing in disguise. Sugarcane stalks have become stronger after absorbing additional water. And agriculturists say it would help boost the sucrose content i.e. sugar millers would be able to extract more sugar out of canes.
Growers say that in most of the cotton producing districts of Sindh the crop is ready for harvesting and was thus strong enough to avoid damages of rains. In fact harvesting has already started. But they fear that in Punjab where cotton crop is less mature than that of Sindh heavy rains might reduce its size.
“On brighter side, the heavy rainfall may kill white fly and this may somewhat compensate the loss in crop size due to excessive rains,” says an executive member of Pakistan Cotton Growers Association (PCGA) Mr. Ihsan ul Haq. White fly is the insect vector of infamous cotton leaf curl virus. Field reports suggest that main cotton producing districts of Punjab, including Rahimyar Khan, Bahawalpur, Multan, Vehari, Lodhran, and Khanewal are partly under the virus attack.
Cotton has reportedly been under virus attack also in such parts of Sindh like Ghotki, Sukkur, Khairpur, Naushehro Feroze and Benazirabad. There too heavy rains may rid the crop of the virus.
Growers as well as the officials of provincial agriculture departments are trying to estimate the loss of cotton crop because of
rains. But guesstimates vary from half a million bales to one million bales. That means, Pakistan will end up producing about at least 15 million bales .Before the rains cotton experts were expecting the crop to yield 15.5-16 million bales this year.
According to PCGA, ginneries across Pakistan have already received 1.731 million bales of cotton up to September 1 including 968,000 bales from Punjab and 763,000 bales from Sindh. Last year the arrivals up to September 1 were not officially released but PCGA sources say they were less than a million bales.
A member of Pakistan Yarn Merchants Association Mr Ghulam Rabbani believes that rains would not cause a big damage to cotton crop because many growers in Sindh and Punjab had sown biotech and new cotton varieties that are virus-resistant and also give larger yields.
Agriculturists say that the heavy rains between mid-August and mid-September have further brightened the scope for a large sugarcane crop this year. They say that this year’s harvest would be somewhere around 62-63 million tonnes against that of 58 million tonnes in the last year.
“Rains between mid-July and mid-August had already strengthened sugarcane stalks. Heavier rains in the last one month would further fatten the canes and boost sucrose content,” a progressive cane grower in district Khairpur of Sindh told Dawn. In Sindh, sugarcane normally has more sucrose compared to the canes grown in Punjab. Growers say that heavy rains are expected to improve sucrose content proportionally in Sindh as well as in Punjab. Sugarcane harvesting is likely to start from mid-October in most parts of Sindh and from early November in Punjab.
Paddy crops, of Irri-6 and Irri-9, have been hit by heavy rains both in Sindh and Punjab. But the damage done varies from mild to severe depending upon the maturity of the crop which was sown relatively late this year due to water shortage.
Growers say that where these non-Basmati varieties had been replanted before mid-August and where rainfall had not been very heavy or had not been accompanied by flooding the crop has been hit only slightly. But where they had not been replanted, like in some parts of Punjab, or where they were just being replanting as in some parts of Sindh, heavy rains combined with overflowing rivers and canals have damaged the crop.
“Many like me in Ghotki had even hired workers for coarse rice thrashing in Sindh in August as we were expecting that harvesting would start in September,” said a Ghotki-based rice trader Namal Das who buys paddy from rice fields and help rice mills in their thrashing on contract basis. “Harvesting has delayed now and may not begin until the third week of this month.”
As for Basmati varieties, heavy rains have not hit the crop much because of two reasons. First, after experiencing last year’s heavy rains and flooding, growers had taken maximum care of saving the crop from their ill effects. Secondly, Basmati fields in Sindh, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and in some parts of Balochistan are generally not located in low-lying areas and draining out rain water is easier there.
Harvesting of Basmati normally begins after the harvesting of Irri-6 and Irri-9. Growers say they will begin reaping this year’s crop sometime in mid or late October in Sindh and parts of Punjab and late as in November in most parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Pakistan has set 6.9 million tonnes of milled rice target for the current cropping year. An official of federal food security and research ministry says it is difficult to predict precisely whether the target would be met “but even if there is any slippage it would not be that big.”
Growers’ groups fear that late sowing of paddy in Sindh and Punjab due to water shortage and then belated medium to heavy rainfall may have a mixed impact on rice output and they too believe it is premature now to assess the impact of rains on overall paddy production.
ISLAMABAD: Around 15 billion smuggled and duty-non-paid cigarettes are sold annually in the country causing loss of more than Rs 10 billion to the national exchequer.
According to sources, besides financial loss, this illicit trade undermines public health agenda as these tobacco products fail to comply with the regulations issued by the government.
Most of these packs do not even carry the Urdu health warning while the regulations prohibiting consumer promotions are also being blatantly violated, they added.
People, while commenting on the situation, said that there is a need to take action for curtailing sale of smuggled and duty-non-paid tobacco products in the local markets to avoid heavy financial losses.
They also stressed the need for strict implementation of tobacco control laws in the country.
They said that sincere efforts were needed to prevent the spread of tobacco use besides check on smoking at indoor public places, tobacco product, advertising and promotion.
When contacted, an official said that in line with the spirit of Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the government had already enacted various tobacco control measures through the Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smokers Health Ordinance 2002.
The said law contains provisions restricting smoking at public places, restricting advertising and promotion of tobacco products and prohibiting sale of cigarettes to minors, he added.
He said Pakistan was the 5th country in Asia, and the 26th in the entire world, which had introduced pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs.
KARACHI: Revenue authorities in district Benazirabad have compelled the poor growers of the area to sell their centuries-old fertile agricultural lands for projects that are ‘in the pipeline.’
According to official sources, the assistant commissioner/land acquisition officer, Sakrand, Saleem Memon, has issued a notice to 150 growers on April 4, 2012 informing them about the one-sided decision of the revenue authorities.
“Notice is hereby given under section 9 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 that land specified in the sub-joined schedule in Deh Chann Biar, taluka Sakrand, district Shaheed Benazirabad, which has been acquired for a public purpose viz different projects in pipeline, district Shaheed Benazirabad.
In accordance with notification under section-4 issued by defunct district officer (Revenue), Shaheed Benazirabad vide his No 450 dated Nil duly published in Sindh Government Gazette dated 8-11-2010(Pages 428-429) read with corrigendum No RB/Asstt/115 dated 22-3-2011 published in Sindh Government Gazette dated 28-3-2011 (Page No 66-67) and also declared under section 6 vide notification No RB/Asstt/473 dated 27-11-2010 issued by the defunct Executive District Officer (Revenue) Shaheed Benazirabad published in Sindh government Gazette dated 29-11-2010 (Pages 447-448) read with corrigendum No RB/Asstt/128 dated 31-3-2011 published in Sindh government Gazette dated 2-4-2011 (Page No 73-73)”, according to a letter made exclusively available.
“All persons interested in the land mentioned below are hereby required to appear personally or by their authorised agents on the date mention, in the schedule in the office of undersigned and to submit:
I) A statement in writing signed by them or by their authorised agents showing the nature of the respective interest in the land herein below mentioned the amount and particulars of their claim’s compensation for such interest and their objections, if any, to the measurement and area of the land which has been acquired,
II) A statement under section 10 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 containing so far as may be practicable, the name of every person possessing any interest in or light over the land or any part there-of as co-proprietor, sub-proprietor, mortgagee, tenant or otherwise receivable on of the nature of such interest and of the rents, profits (if any), received or account there of for three years next proceeding the date of the statement”, it added.
After the notice, sources disclosed that the majority of growers expressed their reservations and they refused to give their centuries-old fertile lands to the district government at throw-away prices. The growers included Ghulam Mustafa Unar, Ghulam Murtaza Unar, Taj Mohammad Unar, Atta Muhammad, Muhammad Hashim, Abdul Hameed, Jan Mohammad, Ghulam Hyder, Abdul Qayoom, Sojhro, Muhammad Khan, Naimatullah, Noorullah, Nawaz Ali, Muhammad Acher and Muhammad Malook.
As per another letter issued by the assistant commissioner/land acquisition officer, Sakrand Saleem Memon to the Senior Member Board of Revenue Shahzar Shamoon, it was also suggested that the land acquisition be denotified and the rate for the acquisition may be enhanced.
“Substance of the objections/claims is that the land acquired is situated at a prime location and is fit for residential and commercial purpose. Average value of fully fertile agriculture land in the locality is not less than Rs 5,000,000 per acre, therefore, existing value of the land, which they deserve to get compensation at the rate of Rs 500 per square foot with other benefits as provided in section 23, 28 A and 34 of the Land Acquisition Act”, the letter says.
“The land is being acquired for development projects in pipeline from which it is clear that no project is approved or sanctioned and therefore, they have serious objection to the acquisition of the land, which may be denotified from acquisition and that if it is decided to acquire the land, the compensation at the rate of Rs 500 per sq foot may be paid with value of buildings, structure and trees standing on the land. The khatedars showed at Sr No 8 to 16 have mainly stated that they depend their livelihood on the agriculture land, therefore proceedings/notices for acquisition of land may be vacated”, the letter added.
Furthermore, the sources claimed that the district revenue officials were issuing threats to the poor growers for the forcible acquisition of the agricultural lands at throwaway prices.
The rate for the lands have been decided at least Rs 5 million per acre, however the assistant commissioner at district Benazirabad, was offering only Rs 0.2 million per acre, which was unjustified to the poor growers and tantamount to the fundamental human rights.
THE Thar coalfields have been declared Special Economic Zone, and unprecedented package of incentives, concessions and protections have been offered for investment.
A large number of investors including global key players in coal mining and power generation have shown repeated interest in developing projects based on Thar coal. But no physical progress on project sites is yet visible.
A part of the requisite infrastructure, like road network, telecommunications and housing, has been developed, whereas work on the other schemes, including 500-kv transmission and water supply, is in progress. Yet, Pakistan has not been able to utilise Thar coal even after two decades of its discovery.
The Thar coalfields, spreading over 9,600 square kilometers and with assessed reserves of 175 billion tons, were discovered in 1992, placing Pakistan as world’s 7th leading country for coal resources and top country for lignite (brown coal) deposits.
By the year 2001, four specific blocks (I, II, III and IV) of the coalfields measuring 356 square kilometres were developed that measured proven reserves of 2,800 million tons of lignite, confirming mineable quantity of at least 1,680 million tons. This volume of lignite will be sufficient to cater to fuel four power plants, each of 1,000-MW, for 30 years of project life.
Meanwhile, by 2002, the Sindh government had developed another four blocks V, VI, VII and VIII. At this critical juncture, a row developed between the federal and Sindh governments on the administrative control of the blocks.
Finally, the Thar coal project was handed over to the province. In recent years, the Sindh Coal Authority has developed additional three blocks, VIII, IX and X.
Currently, there are five on-going commercial projects. Block-I has been allocated to the Global Mining Company of China. A public-private JV Sindh Engro Coal Mining Co is developing Block-II, whereas Block-III is with Pakistani subsidiary of Cougar Energy, UK. Block-IV has been allocated to China Three Gorges Corporation. Block-VI is being developed by Oracle Coalfields, UK. Unfortunately, work on all these projects is progressing very slowly, and none has reached the implementation stage.
The Sindh Engro Coal Mining was scheduled to commence construction of mine of 6.5 million tons annual capacity by June 2012, but could not achieve the target and is now rescheduled for January 2013. Consequently, commissioning of 1,200MW power plant is expected in July 2016.
The project costing $3.5 billion would achieve financial close by first quarter of 2013. Bankable feasibility study has been completed having determined techno-economic parameters for developing a coalmine using open-cast technology.
The Sindh Carbon Energy/Oracle Coalfields had plans to start mine construction during early 2013 and to commence coal extraction by second quarter 2014.
But it would be delayed as a bankable feasibility study has not been prepared. Coal exploration and development licence was granted in November 2007 but project could not be implemented within three years validity of the licence.
However, mine lease was granted for developing mine for extraction of five million tons of lignite annually. A technical study prepared in February 2012 has confirmed proven coal reserves and suitability of open-cast mining systems. It has signed an agreement with the KESC in June 2012 to jointly develop a 300MW mine-mouth power plant by 2015.
Block-V has been allocated to Pepco where the controversial pilot project of 2x50MW using underground coal gasification (UCG) technology is in progress. In fact, UCG is a very questionable technology and certainly not applicable to Thar coal.
Technology, which is still in experimental stage, is used to access coal resources that are either uneconomical by conventional open-cast or underground coal mining methods or are inaccessible due to depth, geology or other mining considerations.
Cougar Energy had obtained lease of Block-III with commitment to commence construction of UCG-technology-based project in 2013-14.
There has been no activity on project since long and it appears that project has been abandoned. Exploration licence was awarded on September 16, 2009. Preliminary feasibility report was to be prepared by 2010-11 and final feasibility study this year. These milestones have not been achieved, however.
Reportedly, Cougar’s first pilot UCG project in Kingaroy, Queensland (Australia), was permanently shut down by the Queensland state government in July 2011 subsequent to blockage and rupture of a gas extraction well in the preceding year.
There were charges of breach of environmental rules linked to release of toxic chemicals into groundwater. Cougar has gone into litigation. Global Mining Co and Sino Sindh Resources plan to develop mine of five million tons annually to fuel proposed 900-MW power plant. RWE Power International of Germany has earlier conducted mining feasibility study at Block-I. Coal extraction is scheduled in 2014.
The government, however, needs to take special initiatives for speedy implementation of the projects in the pipeline.
Engr Hussain Ahmad Siddiqui is ex-chairman of State Engineering Corporation.
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that the popularity of the PML-N is not only increasing in Punjab but throughout the country and its candidates will win with a majority in the general elections as the party has solved problems of the masses during the last four and a half years and introduced a number of projects for their welfare and betterment. Therefore, he has said, the PML-N today is more popular in the people as compared to its rival political parties.
Shahbaz was talking to the assembly members from various districts here on Sunday.
He said that it had been revealed in the recent Gallup survey that not only support of the PML-N but the popularity of its president Nawaz Sharif was also growing and they would vote for its candidates in the forthcoming election. He said the PML-N would form its governments all over the country and new records of public service would be set. He said that during the last four and a half years, a network of welfare oriented projects had been laid throughout the province.
The CM said that contrary to loot and corruption of the dictatorial era, a new culture of transparency and merit had been introduced in the execution of development schemes. He said the PML-N did not need a certificate from anyone as the confidence of the masses was enough for it. He said that due to inefficiency, corruption and nepotism of the federal government, people were still facing the worst loadshedding even after four and a half years and hundreds of thousands of people had been rendered jobless while national institutions were being destroyed through corruption.
The chief minister said that Ali Baba and 40 Thieves had made Pakistan which was rich in natural resources a beggar country while national sovereignty had also been put at stake by the incompetent rulers only for a few pennies. He said Zardari mafia had no concern with the problems of the people and the whole gang was engaged in loot and plunder. He said the people were not ready to tolerate corrupt rulers any longer and would hold Zardari gang accountable as criminal negligence had been shown to the solution to their problems.
The CM said the PML-N government did not believe in power only for the sake of power but considered it as a means of serving the masses. He said the PML-N government had taken hard decisions for the welfare of the people and even its critics could not point a finger to it as it had promoted transparency and merit in every sector. He said corruption and malpractices had been rooted out through promotion of good governance all over the province.
Shahbaz Sharif said that under a comprehensive strategy, revolutionary changes had been brought about in education, health, infrastructure and other sectors. He said the Punjab government was taking lead in the provision of the maximum facilities to the masses.
The chief minister said that the party workers who had rendered sacrifices during dictatorial era were a precious asset to the party and upholding of their respect and honour was his responsibility. He said that genuine problems of the workers would be resolved on a priority basis. He vowed that the country would be put on the road to progress and prosperity under the leadership of PML-N President Nawaz Sharif and a Pakistan would be built where there would be predominance of constitution, law and justice with equal opportunities of progress available to all citizens.
triple murder: Shahbaz Sharif has taken notice of triple murder in Rawalpindi and sought a report from Regional Police Officer Rawalpindi within 24 hours.
LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-N President Nawaz Sharif has warned that any delay in the holding of elections will take the country closer to more devastation and destruction.
Talking to a group of party leaders at his Raiwind residence here on Sunday, Nawaz said failure and corruption by the ruling elite have brought a bad name to democracy. He said the government was not ready to follow the Constitution and the law and it was bent upon taking decisions according to its own free will which is weakening the institutions. Nawaz said loadshedding has pushed the country at verge of collapse. He said the energy shortage problem would only be solved when corruption would be rooted out. He strongly criticised increase in petroleum product prices.
He said the country was passing through times of unprecedented corruption but rulers were not ready for self-correction. He made it clear that the PML-N would not allow any delay in the elections.
There comes a time when tinkering with policy will simply not do. The problems become so grave and intractable that a change is required in the very framework of policy thinking. In Pakistan and indeed the world, we are at such a moment. It may, therefore, be instructive to see how a change occurs in the mode of thought in economics.
It can be argued that John Maynard Keynes brought about a revolution in the science of economics in the 1930s, by changing the prevalent ‘classical’ paradigm. The classicists postulated that unfettered markets constituted the most efficient framework for resource allocation. It followed that governments should not intervene in markets. This view got into trouble during the 1930s, when massive unemployment hit the free-market economy. Within the classical model, all you had to do to remove unemployment was to let wages fall, and more workers would be employed. Yet unemployment continued to rise even though wages were falling.
Along came Keynes, a Cambridge economist, who changed the paradigm in a situation where the old one had failed. He argued that employment was not determined in the labour market, but was the result of capitalists’ decision to invest. If aggregate demand at present is low and therefore, capitalists do not expect to make profits in future, they would refrain from investment, thereby resulting in underutilised production capacity and hence, unemployment. The Keynesian paradigm created the space for government intervention: If the private sector investment was inadequate, then the government must step in to fill the gap in the level of investment required to achieve full employment. The governments in Europe and the US accepted this new thinking, undertook major public expenditure programmes, and the world pulled out of the “Great Depression’’.
In the next 50 years, belief in the efficacy of free markets re-emerged under the rubric of neoclassical economics. It began to dominate thinking in many governments as well as multilateral organisations. In the context of neoclassical economics it was, of course, anathema to regulate markets. This view continued to hold sway even though a structural shift occurred in the world economy: the financial sphere, from being a relatively minor stratum, by the late 20th century became bigger than the real economy. The fragility occurred because of two reasons: a) in the financial sphere, there was a greater possibility of banks and individuals taking speculative risks and b) unbeknown to the individual investor was the fact that individual risks were interlinked at the macroeconomic level. Because of the inherent difficulty of estimating systemic risk, banks, in failing to take it into account, were actually taking much bigger risks than they imagined.
Instead of regulating the financial sphere in the face of this new fragility, the financial markets were further deregulated. For example, the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 in the US, which had forbidden retail banks to engage in imprudent investments such as selling securities, was repealed in 1999. In an unregulated market environment and spiralling risks, the financial edifice began to collapse. The drama began on September 18, 2007 at 11:00 am when there was a run on banks as $550 billion were withdrawn from US banks in one hour. Robert Skidelsky has quoted the Chairman of the US Congress Subcommittee on Capital Markets. If the US Treasury had not stopped banking operations along with a guarantee of $250,000 per account to restore confidence by 2:00 pm, it “… would have collapsed the entire economy of the US and within 24 hours the world economy would have collapsed …”
There are three key lessons of the present economic crisis: First, to prevent recurrent and disastrous market failures, markets must be embedded in sound regulatory institutional structures. Second, public spending, to be sustainable, must be underpinned by institutions for increasing the efficiency of this expenditure. Third, it is not the budget deficit per se that is the problem, but the composition of the deficit: it is necessary to increase the share of productive expenditure and reduce the share of unproductive expenditure in fiscal allocations.