President Asif Ali Zardari has directed the Planning Commission to finalise within one week the infrastructure projects related to irrigation and roads, which has been approved by the Sindh government, and work should be completed within one year.
At a meeting at Bilawal house on Thursday, discussing rebuilding of rain-damaged infrastructure, the president advised the provincial government to set up an infrastructure bank to finance infrastructure projects and invite private entrepreneurs to rebuild roads, bridges, rail tracks and other infrastructure on build, operate and own (BOO) basis.
He asked the Sindh government that the $35 million loan, offered by Exim Bank of China, should be utilised for reconstruction of road links in three major cities – Nawabshah (Shaheed Benazirabad), Sanghar and Mirpurkhas. The provincial government should also fund the Qazi Ahmed Nawabshah sector by providing around Rs330 million.
According to president’s spokesperson Farhatullah Babar, the president said in the wake of losses caused by rains in the province this year, the government was tapping all possible resources for rehabilitation of the damaged infrastructure.
The president directed that various components of the road project should be completed with the help of foreign loans, public-private partnership and contribution from the Sindh government.
The meeting was told that the Left Bank Outfall Drain had been damaged at various points as it was designed for discharge of 3,500-4,000 cusecs of water whereas it was releasing more than 14,000 cusecs.
Rabi Assistance Plan on
In another meeting on Rabi crops, the president called for launching the Rabi Assistance Plan without further delay in rain-hit areas of Sindh with the supply of seeds to farmers in order to ensure timely sowing of crops in lower and upper areas of the province.
According to the president’s spokesperson, participants of the meeting, while giving a presentation, said 2.166 million acres of crop area was damaged in rains this year, causing a loss of Rs218 billion to the agricultural sector.
An official of the Sindh Agricultural Department said distribution of wheat seeds would be carried out through the Executive District Officer (EDO) Revenue and a monitoring committee comprising elected representatives, the district coordination officer (DCO), representatives of Sindh Chamber of Agriculture and Sindh Abadgar Board would ensure transparent distribution of seeds.
The Agricultural Department proposed a Rs4.4 billion package, equally shared by the federal and provincial governments, for facilitating growers of rain-hit districts. The Sindh Government has already released Rs1 billion in the first phase of the programme.
Under the package, wheat would be cultivated on 1.1 million acres and seeds would be provided to the farmers at the rate of 50kg per acre.
Total requirement of seeds will be 55,000 tons to cover the targeted area. Farmers will get compensation for seeds required for 25 acres, irrespective of their landholding.
The DCOs are currently preparing a detailed list of flood-stricken growers, which will be placed on the internet.
Availability of imported fertiliser also came under discussion during the meeting. It was decided that another meeting would be held on Saturday to discuss distribution of locally produced fertiliser as the imported commodity would take some time to reach the market.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 11th, 2011.
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