Punjab govt releases funds to bring 4,000 PSCA cameras online

Home department officials hold meeting with IGP before go-ahead for funds


Muhammad Ilyas January 30, 2020
PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: The home department has finally released Rs664.7 million for the Punjab Safe City Authority (PSCA) for the three quarters of the fiscal year 2019-20 after the provincial finance department had declined to provide a supplementary grant for the project. The total yearly fund needed by the PSCA is Rs1.4 billion.

Punjab’s finance department had long been in a tug-of-war with the home department over the release of the supplementary grant as all the provincial departments were told to report their funds requirements before the start of the fiscal year while the finance department was not given any demand for funds for the Safe City projects.

After the intervention of Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, the provincial Cabinet Committee on Law and Order was told to consult all stakeholders after the home department allocated funds for PSCA under its block allocation. The home department officials held a special meeting with Punjab IGP Shoaib Dastagir before the go-ahead for the funds was made and a formal summary was also approved by the Punjab cabinet’s committee.

The funds will be used for the restoration of 4,000 cameras, payment of salaries and expenditures on account of operations and maintenance.

In a video statement, spokesperson for the Punjab government Musarrat Jamshed Cheema said the approved technical supplementary grant would support the PSCA projects in Lahore and Kasur. The cabinet’s sub-committee for law and order had already approved funds and after a go-ahead of summary by the Punjab CM, the funds for the project are now finally being released.

The CM has said that law and order was among his top priorities and the release of funds would bring an end to all rumours against the delays in the project.

The law enforcement agencies have been instructed to ensure peace and security with advanced technology and professional skills. Sources said that before the Bangladesh team arrived in Pakistan, special security cameras were installed on the route from the hotel to the Gaddafi Stadium. Out of total 8,000 cameras in Lahore, only around 4,000 are functioning while the rest are out of order and in need of repair and maintenance.

The sources revealed that the Safe City Authority has been constantly demanding the release of funds.

Additional funds were sought by the education, health and police departments this year but the government did not entertain the request.

The source said the government departments might be facing difficulties in carrying out routine due to scarcity of funds while the work on development schemes would also be affected.

The leftover development schemes would be completed in the next financial year.

The rift between the Punjab Safe City Authority and the finance department had deepened over the provision of funds despite the intervention of Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar to resolve the issue through the home department.

The finance department had put forth a condition that the Punjab Home Department must put forward a summary submitted by the Safe City Authority for the release of funds. However, the Safe City Authority failed to submit it despite clear orders from the authorities.

The finance department offered quarterly payments of Rs644 million every three months for the safe city project.

Per sources in Punjab finance department, the PSCA was sent a letter to inquire about their annual budget demand to include it in the annual provincial budget however the department received no response from the authority.

Therefore the authority was not given any funds causing the shutdown of over 4,000 cameras and non-payment of the salary of its employees.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th, 2020.

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