Busy working : Cabinet approves mega power plant, six safe cities

Punjab govt approves agreement to provide interest-free loans to landless farmers

Our Correspondent May 11, 2017
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. PHOTO:EXPRESS

LAHORE: The provincial cabinet had a busy day on Wednesday as it approved a 1,200 megawatt power plant and the establishment of six safe city projects in the province.

The safe city projects would be set up in Multan, Bahawalpur, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala and Sargodha. The projects would be implemented in phases and later a safe city initiative would also be set up in Sahiwal.

The provincial cabinet approved an agreement between the Punjab government, agriculture department and Akhuwat to provide interest-free loans to small and landless farmers. The Punjab government would set up a revolving fund with an amount of Rs2 billion for the same purpose.

The meeting approved amendments to different laws, including Punjab e-Stamp Rules 2016, Punjab Sales Tax on Services (Amended) Ordinance 2016, Fort Munro Development Act 2016 and PEEDA Act 2016. The meeting approved the establishment of the Punjab Mental Health Authority under the Punjab Mental Health Ordinance 2001.

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Addressing the cabinet, Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif said the provincial government decided to set up a new gas power plant of 1,200 megawatt on its own. This project kept in mind the energy needs of the country and potential challenges of the future.

A suitable piece of land would be identified near the southern Punjab districts of Rahim Yar Khan or Muzaffargarh to establish electricity-producing projects from gas.

He said 717 megawatts of electricity was being produced from the national grid through the 1,180 megawatt Bhikhi Power Plant. Meanwhile, an additional 400 megawatts of power would be produced in November or December from this power plant. Similarly, the 1,320 megawatt Sahiwal Coal Power Project would start producing electricity from May 20 in the first phase and provide 660 megawatts to the national grid in the first phase. The second phase of this project would be completed at the end of June.

About the Safe Cities Project, the chief minister said following Lahore, it was being launched in six big cities of Punjab. He added the initiative would launch in the coming months.

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“These projects will be completed in 2018,” he added. “The cities will become secure and peaceful through the Punjab Safe City Projects. The completion of safe city projects will help eradicate terrorism and street crime.” He said that no nation or society could move forward without first ensuring the protection of life and property. “Safe city projects are an important step towards achieving that goal.”

The CM said the launch of e-stamp papers was another historic step taken by the Punjab government to facilitate the people.

“These papers changed the hundred-year-old archaic and obsolete system. This step has also eradicated fraud, forgery and backdating of stamp papers,” he said. The CM added it saved people from standing in long queues to get stamp papers.

He said agriculture was of vital importance to strengthen the national economy. “The Punjab government has taken solid steps for the development of the agriculture sector and prosperity of small farmers. It’s for the first time in the history of the country that small farmers are being provided interest-free loans. It is also unprecedented that landless tillers are getting interest-free loans,” he said.

While approving the establishment of the Punjab Mental Health Authority, Shehbaz said different steps taken by the government to provide better healthcare facilities had started yielding fruit. He vowed that no stone would be left unturned to providing qualitative and latest healthcare facilities.

The CM formed a cabinet committee for the selection of authority members and this body will finalise the members of the Punjab Mental Health Authority. He stated experts from the private sector will also be included in this authority.

Provincial ministers, advisors, special assistants, the chief secretary and secretaries of concerned departments attended the meeting.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2017.


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