The Rawalpindi Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) annual development programme (ADP) will be in a quandary soon, as the Punjab government has said no to most of its schemes.
In fact, all the development schemes submitted by PHA to the Punjab government for approval, only a rain harvesting pilot project worth Rs50 million has been approved. This translates into an almost 90 percent cut in Rawalpindi PHA’s annual development programme.
The Rawalpindi PHA sent ADP proposals to the Punjab government for many development schemes such as beautification of Rawalpindi worth Rs100 million, construction of PHA building worth Rs75 million, upgradation and remodeling of Liaquat Bagh Rs50 million, construction of Sports Complex at Allama Iqbal Park cum club of Rs100 million, boundary wall of Pothohar park of Rs8.58 million, upgradation of electrification and civil work at Allama Iqbal Park of Rs8.83 million and rain harvesting project of Rs50 million.
However, the only scheme approved was a rain harvesting pilot project for the mosques of Rawalpindi. Even for this project only Rs50 million has been approved for this year. No funds were allocated for the other proposed development schemes and they have been practically scrapped.
Under the rain harvesting pilot project, rainwater from the roofs of mosques and buildings in parks will be collected in a tank and used for ablution by people in mosques.
The water used for ablution will later be collected in another tank and be used for watering trees, grass, flower beds and green belts.
The project aims at saving clean water by using rainwater for plants and trees.
It should be noted that there are 58 parks in the city. They include Allama Iqbal park, Liaquat Bagh park, Rawal Road park, Potohar park, and other places. The PHA needs a lot of funds to repair and upgrade them.
When asked to comment on the issue, PHA Director General (DG) Zaheer Anwar Japa told The Express Tribune said that he expected the cuts to be revised through the next supplementary budget. He added that the rain harvesting pilot project is important as by providing rain water in mosques, parks, greenbelts, and the trees, ample quantities of it would be conserved daily.
The director general said that this saving would meet many citizens’ needs for clean drinking water.
The Punjab government has failed to establish a pictorial museum conserving the history of Liaquat Bagh that dates back to the British rule in India. PHA ex-DG Abid Malik had proposed to set up a gallery after compiling the history of the park.
He had sent the proposal to ex-Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif. The ex-DG said that the visitors to the park should know Liaquat Bagh was originally established during the British Raj where the Gorkha regiment of the Indian army received training. It was renamed as Liaquat Bagh after the assassination of the former Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan in the same park.
It holds significance in the political history of the country as many prominent leaders, including premiers, addressed public gatherings there. The first female Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was also assassinated in the historic park in December 2007.
The park holds the record for organising the largest Eid prayers congregation in the country’s history. PHA wanted to compile all history in pictorial and documented forms to sensitise the young generation about the historical importance of the park. However, the recommendation was not implemented.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2021.
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