LAHORE: Following Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar’s nod, the provincial government has initiated the process to constitute a new authority, Punjab Aab-e-Pak Authority, for the provision of clean drinking water to the masses, The Express Tribune learnt on Wednesday.
The Punjab Law Department has already started preparing a draft memorandum for the constitution of the new authority. The new authority is aimed at providing clean drinking water to the entire population of Punjab, a little over 110 million.
The authority will install water filtration plants across the province, in collaboration with local and international donors including United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organisation (WHO), multinational corporates, non-governmental organisations, chambers of commerce and trade associations.
The authority will also try to secure some soft loans and follow the WHO guidelines and national quality standards. As per initial information, the new authority will be run by a nine-member board comprising of independent professionals and retired government officers.
Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, who is already running some water filtration projects from the platform of his non-governmental organisation Sarwar Foundation, highlighted that no government, especially in the developing country like Pakistan could run water filtration plants at such a large scale.
Sarwar, on Wednesday, constituted a seven-member committee, under the chairmanship of Akhuwat Foundation Founder Dr Amjad Saqib, to document works of various NGOs working across Punjab. The committee will also document clean drinking water schemes run by different NGOs and private sector as the governor believes that several organisation are working on their own for the provision of clean drinking water to citizens.
“Since no government agency has any data about NGOs or private sector-run water schemes. In several areas, different organisation are working in same neighbourhoods. Though their efforts are commendable but this wastage of resources could be avoided through proper planning and documentation,” he underscored.
Speaking to a delegation of NGO representatives, Sarwar said the government was willing to extend all possible support to the NGOs for their commendable work. It is the government’s priority and responsibility to provide health and education facilities to citizens. The government is working to provide clean drinking water and better healthcare facilities to the masses. He also asked the NGOs to collaborate and team up with the government for the welfare of the masses as it would benefit more.
“Previous government of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) constituted the Punjab Saaf Pani Company for the same purpose but it badly failed to provide clean drinking water to citizens even after spending millions of rupees,” he said.
“Now the Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is going to constitute a similar company for the provision of clean drinking water to masses but they have adopted a different approach. The new water authority will collaborate with donors and private sector for installation of water filtration plants in different areas of the provinces,” he said while elaborating the functioning of the project.
However, the opposition parties did not seem happy with governor’s keen interest in water projects in the province. On the other day, the opposition lawmakers criticised treasury legislators in Punjab Assembly over Sarwar’s involvement and asked the government that under which rules the governor was making claims of running water projects in different areas of the province.
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