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Big projects of Usman Buzdar government

Although Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had announced to start some mega projects in Punjab, it could not initiate work on some of them.

The mega projects announced by former Chief Minister Usman Buzdar’s government included River Ravi Urban Development project, electric tram along the canal project, low-cost housing scheme, thousands of jobs and some more. The Ravi Riverfront City, if established, will deal with the major problems of overpopulation, traffic congestion, heavy pollution and flooding.

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It was also to provide the people of Lahore with multitude of opportunities besides thousands of jobs. The Rs5 trillion project aims to rehabilitate and develop Ravi River into a perennial freshwater system. Other milestone projects included the city’s first electric tram project on Lahore’s Canal Road. Reportedly, the tram project would have 21 smart stations constructed on the 22-kilometre route. It will feature an eight-feet-wide track on both sides of the road.

Moreover, the speed of the tram will be between 25 to 30kmph. The total cost of the project is expected between Rs30 to Rs50 billion. Moreover, the government had also promised to establish a separate province, South Punjab, but it could only set up South Punjab Civil Secretariat. It also claimed to have given administrative autonomy to the Secretariat. In the last few months, the Buzdar government had also set up a mini-Secretariat in his home tehsil, Taunsa Sharif, to pace up development there. Officers were forced to sit in the mini-Secretariat building round the week.

However, the Usman Buzdar government had earmarked a ring-fenced budget for South Punjab. In the current fiscal year Rs190 billion were kept for the development of the South Punjab province.

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Moreover, the Buzdar government stressed to increase job quota for the people of the South Punjab. The cabinet committee on the legislative business and the cabinet approved the Buzdar government’s move despite the fact that there was no constitutional provision to sustain the quota. It is another fact that the South Punjab candidates had been in some cases claiming more than fifty percent seats in the competition.

The Buzdar government wanted to decrease role of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) and legislation was also passed in the regard to materialize this idea. The Buzdar government had practically made the prime commissioning body dysfunctional as it remained reluctant to appoint members against the vacant slots in the commission.

A Rs10 billion 122km long road from Chowkiwala to Musakhel was being constructed to connect Punjab with Balochistan. The cadet college Fort Munro was also a big step in the area. Sorra Dam was a big project to be started at Koh-e-Suleman while the feasibility study of four other dams was also made in the area.

Reportedly, 616 schemes worth Rs132 billion were also included in the development. Those include Punjab Arterial Roads worth Rs25 billion, road rehabilitation programme, to upgrade and dualize major roads of the region and some others. Likewise, in the health sector Under ADP 2021-22, Rs38 billion were earmarked for the health sector for improvement and establishment of 13 new health dispensaries, 31 BHUs, 3 model RHCs. Moreover, up gradation of 21 BHUs into RHCs; establishment of 158 new dispensaries were also made.

Six mother and child hospitals costing Rs35 billion, in Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan, Layyah, Bahawalnagar, Muzaffargarh and Rajanpur districts were also said to be gifts for the south Punjab. Moreover, as per the sources in the Planning and Development Board under the Roads and Bridges head the projects included Chief Minister Punjab’s Road Rehabilitation Programme, Dualization of Sargodha – Mianwali Road (Phase-I), Dualization of Dina – Mangla Road, Length 12.83 Km, Improvement/Rehablitation of Rawalpindi – Murree – Kashmir (RMK) road Km 66-104, Length 38 km, Construction of Flyover at Nadirabad Phatak to Industrial Estate, Multan, Flyover Millad Chowk/Fawara Chowk to Fareed Gate.

Under the Irrigation sector the projects included construction of Flood Bund Hairo, flood Bund to Raikh Baghwala, Flood Bund on Right Side of River Indus, Protection of Irrigation Infrastructures and abadies in Minchin Flood Bund, Chaubara Branch Canal Construction Project – Greater Thal Canal (Phase-II), construction of Sorra Dam etc. The concrete lining of irrigation channels in Punjab to improve water delivery performance and conveyance efficiency was also a big deal.

Other projects of the Buzdar government included construction of flyover and improvement at Shahkam Chowk, Lahore, construction of Underpass at Ghulab Devi Hospital and additional lanes on Lahore Bridge, construction of Sheranwala Flyover, Lahore, initiative for the development of Urban Forest plantation in Lahore. There was a project to acquire land for Lai Expressway & flood channel, Rawalpindi.

Moreover, procurement of 200 ecofriendly urban buses for major cities of Punjab, construction of 200 bus stops shelters including Bus Information and scheduling system in Lahore were other projects in the Transport. Waqar Nadeem, a development expert said that the data show that the main focus of the Buzdar government remained the south Punjab development only. He badly ignored other parts including the metropolis. He said that former CM Shahbaz Sharif had focused Lahore and ignored rest of the province. He said that the Planning and Development department should formulate a balanced policy after studying all factors like growth rate, tax collection, poverty, literacy, unemployment etc. Buzdar and Shahbaz governments misused the mandate, Nadeem blamed.

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