PESHAWAR: A Senate panel on Thursday suggested associating selection of seminaries in the mainstreaming project to the population of districts while merged districts which were deprived earlier should be given a priority in the process.
This was discussed as the Senate Standing Committee on the States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) met at the Parliament House on Thursday with Senator Taj Afridi in the chair.
The committee reviewed the progress made in bringing religious seminaries a part of the mainstream education system apart from health projects in the Newly Merged Tribal Districts (NMTDs). The committee also discussed the funds allocated for the provision of gas in NMTDs.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Additional Chief Secretary Shakeel Qadir briefed the meeting that the federal government has provided Rs87 million for bringing religious seminaries into the mainstream.
The committee was also informed that the provincial government has approved Rs16 billion for different projects in the erstwhile federally administered tribal areas (Fata) in just the past two months.
The additional chief secretary further said that the NMTDs require an additional 800megawatts of power to fully meet demands. By contrast, the current infrastructure of the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) can only supply transmission 200MWs.
The power infrastructure in the NMTDs would soon be revamped, Qadir assured.
Afridi, however, directed the additional chief secretary to issue a show-cause notice to the relevant authority which has made several appointments in the health directorate without meeting the requirements of the positions.
In response to a question about the lack of an ultrasound machine in hospitals of the NMTDs, the meeting was told that the government is working on a Project Concept-I (PC-I) for the provision of training to lady health visitors (LHVs) on using ultrasound systems while the machines will also be provided to health facilities in NMTDs.
The committee was further told that as many as 50 new ambulances will be procured for hospitals in ex-Fata areas. Moreover, 14 vehicles were procured in 2010 to set up mobile hospitals.
Senator Bilal Rehman noted that several doctors have joined the polio campaign and a list of all such doctors should be shared with the committee at the next meeting.
The meeting was further told that a budget of Rs152 billion had been approved for the NMTDs, including around Rs90 billion for development.
Senator Afridi said that several projects, which were announced before the merger, are still pending. He further voiced concern that these projects were not included in the government’s 10-year development plan for the tribal districts.
He demanded that the old system should be revived to expedite the development process in these areas.
Reviewing the matter of increasing seats for students from NMTDs at colleges and universities across the country, the meeting was told that seats for students at the National College of Arts in Lahore could not be increased for the time being because of a lack of resources and other technical issues.
The committee’s chairperson said that the implementation of the federal cabinet’s decisions was a legal obligation on every institution. He directed the Higher Education Commission chairperson and principal of the NCA to brief the committee bout the issue faced at the next meeting.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2020.