ISLAMABAD: The government approved on Friday a three-year ‘Emergency Plan for Polio Eradication’ covering the period from 2016 to 2018. According to the plan, around 698 million doses of polio vaccine will be administered to vulnerable children across the country.

The project was approved by the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) at a meeting presided over by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

The emergency plan costing Rs31.8 billion will be executed by the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination. Unicef will procure vaccine and will undertake social mobilisation activities, while WHO will be responsible for conducting operational activities of the Supplemental Immunisation Activities (SIAs), including surveillance.

Ecnec also approved the ‘Punjab Economic Opportunities Programme’ which has been estimated to cost Rs8,783 million. It will benefit 145,000 people in the agricultural and rural sector. The programme aims to improve service delivery to farmers and introduce support mechanisms for timely access to quality inputs through establishment of rural business hubs.

The government support and spending will be rationalised to ensure it is directed to areas such as research, pest and disease surveillance, efficient water use, alternative energy, agro-processing and creation and administration of regulatory and legislative framework, and addressing externalities such as enhancing sustainability and adopting environment friendly activities. The Planning and Development Department will execute the project.

In the power sector, Ecnec approved the ‘Reinforcement of 220kv Transmission System Network’ project in Islamabad and Burhan. The total rationalised cost of the project is Rs3,619m, including Rs1,802m as the foreign exchange component.

The project is expected to enhance the capacity of transmission system by addition and reinforcement of 220kv transmission lines along with extensions at respective sub-stations to meet the growing power demand of the country, particularly areas covered by IESCO. The project will be completed in three years to be executed by NTDCL.

The 128MW Keyal Khwar Hydro Power project costing Rs26,084m with Rs9,364m foreign exchange component also got the approval. It will be located in district Kohistan, and will be executed by Wapda in four years. The project will be interconnected with the national grid by 2.8km long 132kv double circuit transmission line.

Ecnec approved the “Water Carrier from Nabisar Reservoir to Thar Coal Field, Block-II” project which will be financed by Sindh government at a cost of Rs15,652m through the annual development plan. The project is expected to be completed by September next year. According to details, 35 cusecs of water for operations of Thar Coal power units will be carried and will help produce approximately 1,000 to 1,200MW of electricity.

Ecnec also approved the proposal for replacement of Katki Khaisar dam in Johan area with Zard Ghulam Jan dam in Mangocher in the Kalat district under the construction of 100 delay action dams in Balochistan covered by the second package for the construction of 26 dams.

In the communication sector, Ecnec gave the go ahead to the project for the rehabilitation and upgradation of 45km Jalalpur-Pirwala-Uch section of Multan-Trinda Mohammad Pannah Road at the revised cost of Rs4,675m. The National Highway Authority will be responsible for executing, maintaining and operating the project.

Ecnec also approved the construction of 109.2km Athmuqam-Sharda-Kel-Taobat Road Section, including two tunnels at Kahori/Kamser 3.7km and Challpani 0.6km section of Neelum Valley Road, Azad Kashmir. The total cost of the project will be Rs17,584m, including the foreign exchange component of Rs5,090m. The NHA will be responsible for completion, operation and maintenance of the project.

Published in Dawn, January 30th, 2016