The Punjab government has spent around 40 per cent of its development budget for the year ending June 30 in Lahore leaving very little for the rest of the 35 districts in Punjab.
In total disregard for its claims of developing the downtrodden areas of the province, the Punjab government spent Rs105 billion of the allocated budget of Rs193 billion. And 40 per cent of Rs105 billion was spent on development projects in Lahore only which include Ring Road, Kalma Chowk flyover and underpass, the proposed Muslim Town flyover and Multan Road.
In 2009, 60 per cent of a total development budget of Rs150 billion was spent in Lahore. To top that, the government has set aside Rs21 billion for block allocation – funds set aside for an unspecified project and can be spent anywhere after the chief minister’s approval. This sum too is being spent mostly on Lahore’s infrastructure.
Opposition MPAs from South Punjab including Mohsin Leghari and Sardar Ather Gurchani have frequently voiced their concern against what they termed province’s bureaucracy.
But now MPAs on the treasury benches too have started criticising the government, albeit privately. One of them told The Express Tribune when she sought approval for water supply schemes in the far off district of south Punjab, she was told that she would only get the money for a scheme in Lahore.
Development projects are so heavily skewed in Lahore’s favour that during a meeting, chairman planning and development told Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif that Lahore needs to produce its own resources if it wants the funds. Soon after, a summary was moved to the chief minister which proposed that funds can be raised by awarding ownership rights to more than 20,000 dwellings on encroached land. The proposal envisaged to raise Rs2 billion instantly and has, according to the summary, the potential to raise Rs12 billion.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2011.
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