How Punjab is improving peoples’ living standards

Punjab’s Department of Local Government and Community Development plays an important role in providing civic services to the people in a planned and coordinated manner to improve their living standards. In the budget, presented by the government of Chief Minister Muhammad Hamza Shahbaz, a substantial amount of Rs 528 billion has been allocated to local governments.

One of the most important local government projects is the master plan for better planning of seven intermediate cities for which the Asian Development Bank is providing $600 million. Rs 500 million have been allocated in the development budget which will improve the condition of the general bus stands of Jhang, Toba Tek Singh, Vehari, Rajanpur, Rahim Yar Khan and Khushab. Another major project of Rs 500 million is being launched in Narowal, Jhang, Sargodha and Khushab for the improvement of slaughterhouses so that the people can get clean and healthy meat in accordance with principles of hygiene.

The new budget will cover multiple development schemes in urban and rural areas across the province, including sewerage and water supply schemes, roads, streets, public parks, playgrounds, model cattle markets, multi-purpose buildings and waste management, model cemeteries and other miscellaneous municipal services.

Also, the department has launched several foreign-aided projects. In the next financial year, special attention has been paid to provide equal development opportunities in North Punjab, Central Punjab and South Punjab. Work is underway on thousands of small and large development schemes, but the most important of these are as follows: The country is currently facing challenges such as integrated planning, the institutional framework for better delivery of civic services, and strengthening business processes for better governance and local infrastructure.

The government is implementing Punjab Intermediate Cities Improvement Investment Program (PICIIP) in Sahiwal, Sialkot, Sargodha, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan and Muzaffargarh with the financial assistance of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). PICIIP aims to improve the efficiency and financial sustainability of intermediate cities and the effectiveness of urban services through the water supply, sanitation, sewerage system, sewage treatment, solid waste management, transport infrastructure, and up-gradation of Punjab Local Government Academy in Lalamusa and capacity development program. Improved access to clean water, install water reservoirs, water pipes, water meters, pressure gauges, boreholes, water transfer stations, rehabilitations of tube wells, turbine pumps and motors. Improved sanitation operations install centralized sewerage treatment plant (STP), rehabilitation of disposal station, replacement of sewer pipes, provision of missing equipment for sewage water management, unblocking local drains, and improved access to urban public spaces and transport services.

Rehabilitation of parks and green belts, and improvements of major streets, footpaths and bus terminals are also part of major targets of PICIIP. Punjab Cities Program (PCP) aims at improving governance, institutional development of 16 cities, provision of efficient services, provision of sustainable municipal infrastructure, increase in the sources of revenue and efficient use of resources. Cities have been selected in North, South and Central Punjab on the basis of population growth and their economic potential. Target cities include Okara, Kamalia, Muridke, Hafizabad, Kamoki, Jaranwal, Gojra, Jhang, Daska, Wazirabad, Jhelum, Vehari, Burewala, Khanewal, Bahawalnagar, Kot Addu and some selected municipalities except those falling under the World Bank-funded PCGIP and PICIIP. In this program, infrastructure projects in the areas of water supply, sewerage, solid waste management, road construction, drainage, public parks, street lights and other development projects have been initiated in collaboration with the World Bank.

The main stakeholders of this program include LG&CD Department, Finance Department, Punjab Local Government Board, 16 Municipal Committees and Punjab Municipal Development Fund Company. Result areas of PCP include investment planning and budgeting, Human resource strengthening, own resource revenues, procurement, financial management and audit, environmental and social management, transparency and accountability, and operation-specific and urban infrastructure. Punjab Rural Sustainable Water Supply and Drainage Project (PRSWSP) will benefit about 2,000 villages in 16 selected tehsils of Punjab. The World Bank and the Punjab government have been instrumental in providing clean drinking water, drainage and sanitation. The Punjab Shehr-i-Khamoshan Authority (PSKA) has launched a Model Cemetery Program across the province covering issues such as graveyard walls, the dignified burial of the deceased, excavation of graves, uniformity of grave size and installation of inscriptions.

This will also reduce the illegal occupation of cemetery lands and will remove the obstacles that people face in burying their loved ones. The Digitization Project will strengthen all local governments across the province, including the local government department, to replace the existing traditional system of hygiene and solid waste management, human resource management information system and biometric attendance by making most of the official business paperless. Bids for collection of taxes and fees, e-auction, e-billing system, building control management system, financial management system, water supply and disposal system, asset management information system, postal management system, grievance management system and human system are salient features of the digitization project. Planning and management of resource performance is an important component of digitization after which the quality and speed of local government services will be greatly improved.

Walled City Lahore Authority (WCLA) is working to restore historic buildings, monuments and open spaces within old Lahore. In addition, the authority has taken effective measures to preserve the region’s ancient heritage, which will certainly help boost the tourism-related economy. By amending the law, the scope of WCLA’s activities is being extended to the entire province. With modern facilities, cattle markets have been set up in Sheikhupura, Faisalabad, Attock and Chichawatni while Multan and Arifwala are under construction. These have turned into the best livestock business centres where farmers are getting information and other ancillary facilities to raise and sell their livestock effectively.



Ahmad Naeem Malik is deputy director at the Directorate General of Public Relations [DGPR] - a provincial office to create a better understanding of the government's efforts, policies and political will in public through effective utilization of mass media, and image building of Punjab administration