January 07, 2008

BALOCHISTAN : Mega projects to bring about positive change in lives of people: PM

Associated Press of Pakistan, Pakistan - Jan 4, 2008

ISLAMABAD, Jan 4 (APP): Caretaker Prime Minister Mohammedmian Soomro on Friday said the increased development spending in Balochistan has improved the standard of living and helped creation of job opportunities for the local people. He mentioned spending on infrastructure expansion, provision of gas, electricity, schools, health facilities and clean drinking water to various parts of Baluchistan.

He said the people of the province have for the first time been able to benefit from the strong economic growth and development, thus positively affecting their lives.

The Prime Minister said this while reviewing the progress on the ongoing development projects in Balochistan here at the Prime Minister Secretariat this afternoon.

He said the mega projects like Gwadar Deep Sea Port, Coastal Highway, Mirani Dam, Kachi Canal, Sandak Copper Project would bring about economic prosperity for the people of Baluchistan.

These mega projects would facilitate the economic activities thus opening up job opportunities for the people of different areas of the province, he added.

The Prime Minister said that the federal government had always attached high priority to the development of Baluchistan.

Besides taking several economic initiatives for the welfare of the people of Balochistan including appropriate representation in the federal services, the government has increased the job quota for the educated youth of the province, he added.

The Prime Minister said the government has been sincerely striving to provide basic facilities including health and education to all so that educated youth can play their role for the progress of the country.

He said Balochistan has vast potential in various areas like mining, gas, mineral exploration, fisheries, petroleum and other natural resources, adding, there is need to utilize the available natural resources to benefit the people of the area as well as the country.

The Prime Minister said that the government is pursuing investment-friendly policies and has offered level playing field to all the local and foreign investors to benefit from the ideal business opportunities.

The work on 66 marble factories with significant investment by Italian and European Union countries will be completed soon while other sectors are also attracting foreign investment, he added.

The Prime Minister said that the government is focusing on the building of National Trade Corridor and with the completion of roads network, access to the Central Asian States and beyond, would become possible.

Earlier the Chief Secretary during his presentation said that the government and the people of Balochistan greatly appreciate the economic policies and the development projects undertaken by the federal and provincial governments.

He updated the meeting that the pace of work on various projects is going on satisfactorily including the work on rehabilitation of the infrastructure which was damaged after the flood in the province.

He said that the conversion of B areas to A areas in three districts has been completed by 100% with the help of federal government.

He said 4000 persons have been recruited in Balochistan Constabulary and further 2000 would be recruited during the current financial year.

He said it would help a great deal in maintaining law and order, which is the prerequisite to maintain the pace of the ongoing development programme in the province.

He also apprised the meeting that the work on night landing facility at Quetta Airport is also moving forward at a satisfactory pace which would be completed as per schedule at a cost of Rs. 6 billion.

He said that the development work on 11 cadet colleges is also moving ahead, as planned.

The Chairman National Highway Authority (NHA) briefed the meeting that work on the development of roads network is in progress.

He said roads like N-50, Quetta-Taftan, Shahdad Kot-Ratodero, Khuzdar-Ratodero and Khojak Tunnel are at different stages and would be completed within the stipulated time period.

He said the connectivity of Gwadar with other areas and Central Asian States would be completed during the given timeframe.

The Secretary Railways briefed the meeting that the feasibility for the upgradation of Quetta Zhob Railway line is in the progress and project will be completed with an amount of Rs. 42 billion. The feasibility of linking Gwadar through rail will be completed by the end of February this year with an amount of Rs. 98 billion. He said the work is continuing satisfactorily.

The Chairman National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) updated the meeting that rehabilitation of the flood and cyclone affectees is moving forward at a good pace and a damage and need assessment has been carried out.

He said that about 7500 tents, 33000 blankets and seeds of various crops weighing 700 tonnes were distributed among the farmers. He said that Rs. 1600 million were distributed as compensation among the affectees of Mirani Dam.

The meeting was attended by Sardar Saleh Bhotani, Chief Minister Baluchistan, Dr. M. Akram Sheikh, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Saif Magsi, Minister for Planning and Development Baluchistan and senior officials.

FG to provide Rs. 30 billion additional for road sector in Balochistan: Bhutani
QUETTA Jan 5 (APP) Caretaker Chief Minister Balochistan Sardar Mohammad Saleh Bhutani has said the federal government has promised to provide Rs. 30 billion additional for uplift of road sector in Balochistan while a committee has also been constituted to evolve a feasible formula to settle issue regarding Gas Development Surcharge and Gas Reality between the federal and the provincial governments. The committee would comprise both the representatives of the federal government and the provincial governments.
Addressing a press conference here Friday, he said these decisions have been taken in the meeting headed by the Prime Minister held in Islamabad.

Besides, increasing the road sector development budget the meeting also reviewed the pace of work on Railway track in the province as feasibility of Quetta-Dera Ismail Khan via Zhob Railway track would be launched by February next. Work on Lackpass tunnel some 30 km of the provincial capital on Quetta-Karachi highway would also be completed soon while the meeting also approved Khujjak Tunnel project and work on which would be launched soon.

The meeting also approved projects for supplying gas to Loralai, Zhob, Killa Siafullah and Noshki districts while work on the project to supply gas to Winder industrial state would be launched soon.

Besides, the meeting directed for expediting work on electricity supply projects to Northern and Western areas in the project.

He said Dadu-Khuzdar transmission line would be completed soon which would ensure power supply to Awaran, Washuk, Kurkh and other parts in the province. Rs. 100 million allocated for establishment of Kurkh grid station during the meeting and work on this project would be launched as early as possible.

Besides, the Saudi government has promised Rs. 320 million for electricity supply project for Dalbandin while rest of the cost of the project would be borne by the federal government, he said, adding negotiations between Iranian and Pakistani governments is continue regarding supply of power supply to Gwadar, Awaran and Chaghi areas.

Referring to shortage of bulldozers for agriculture purposes, the CM said the meeting approved the purchase of 200 bulldozers for China. However, we demanded the government to provide the province 25 bulldozers for trial after which we would place demand for more bulldozers.

He said the government has also approved Rs. 60 million for equipping Quetta Airport with night landing facility and this project would be completed by June next.

He said both the President and the Prime Minister have agreed with the provinces stand about Gas Development Surcharge and Gas Royalty issue. However, in view of the technicalities of the issue, the government has constituted the committee to draw a viable formula acceptable to both the federal and the provincial governments.

Regarding implementation on conversion of B area into A project, the CM said almost all areas in the province have been declared police controlled and for the purpose the government has to incur about Rs. 8 to 10 billions in this regard. The amount would have to be provided by the federal government up to 2009 but on the province’s request the President and Prime Minister have decided that the federal government would bear the cost unless the province gain self relieance in economy in order not to disturbed development process in the province.

He said the province would gain self reliance in terms of economy after the Reko Dic Copper and Gold project is made functional.

Referring to losses caused by flashfloods in the province, the CM said losses have been estimated as about 16 billions and the amount would be provided by the federal government for rehabilitation of affected infrastructure. Besides, the federal government has also conceded to bear the deficit of 8 out of 14 diesel run power houses in the province. The electricity generated by these power houses is being provided to consumers on subsidy.

Besides, the federal government has also promised Rs. 166 million under Education Support Programme while Rs. 1.5 billion would be provided to province under DERA-II.

He said eleven new cadet colleges are being established at a cost of Rs. 4.4 billion with financial assistance of the federal government.

To a question, he said only three banks and same number of shops were set ablaze during violence erupted after Benazir Bhutto’s death while overall situation remained quite peaceful in the province.

Referring to flour crisis, the CM said strict directive has been issued to quarters concerned to overcome the situation and citizens should be ensured flour on fixed rates.

To a question regarding change of Governor Balochistan Awais Ahmed Ghani, he said it is President’s discretion to make appointment of the Governor and Awais Ahmed Ghani has to play more important role as Governor NWFP.

Regarding security arrangements for Muharram, the CM said FC would also be used for maintaining law and order situation in the province.

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