QUETTA: The Balochistan government will hire services of top international companies to prepare a feasibility report for the proposed Quetta Greater Water Supply project.

The project has been included in the Annual Development Programme of 2016-17.

This was stated by Provincial Minister for Planning and Development Dr Hamid Khan Achakzai while speaking at the post-budget press conference here on Monday.

Provincial Ministers Sheikh Jaffar Khan Mandokhel and Sardar Aslam Bizenjo accompanied Dr Achakzai.

The minister said that in the next year’s annual development programme 1,035 new development schemes had been proposed and for implementation on these schemes, Rs49 billion had been allocated.

Dr Achakzai dispelled the impression that the provincial budget had been prepared by the corps headquarters.

“The budget has been prepared by public representatives with the help of financial managers with a new vision that collective development will be given top priority,” Dr Achakzai said.

“All coalition partners have consensus over the vision,” the minister said, adding that the budget had been endorsed by two other ministers who also attended the press conference.

“There was some misunderstanding about preparation of the budget which has now been resolved,” Minister Jaffar Khan Mandokhel said, adding that under the new vision collective development schemes had been proposed in the annual development programme.

Dr Achakzai said there was no truth in media reports that army officials had participated in preparation of the Balochistan budget.

“Army officers attended a meeting on the law and order situation of Makran Division and Awaran districts, presided over by Balochistan Chief Minister. A photo of the meeting published in a section of the press created a wrong perception,” he said.

Referring to acute water shortage in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan, the minister said that the water shortage was the main problem of the provincial capital and other areas of Balochistan and the government had now decided to give it top priority to resolve the matter on a permanent basis.

Replying to a question, Minister for Revenue Sheikh Jaffar Khan Mandokhel said that merit would be adopted in building all mega development projects proposed in the next year’s budget.

“The government has decided to involve top international consultant and construction companies for implementing all mega projects of the province.”

Referring to the water issue, the additional chief secretary said that the population of Quetta city was now more than three million and demand for water was increasing with each passing day because of rising population.

He said that Quetta had been getting 28 million gallons of water a day, but it had been facing a shortfall of 17 million gallons of water.

“In the next 10 years, the demand for water will reach 75 million gallons because of continuous increase in population,” he said.

Referring to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the minister said that the project would connect the country with the rest of the world.

He said it was the need of the hour to resolve all major issues of Quetta on a war footing which include water shortage, solid waste management, traffic management and pollution control.

He said that Mangi Dam would not be able to meet the total demand of water in Quetta, adding that the government had planned to supply water to Quetta from the Pat Feeder Canal through a pipeline.

Finance Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani told reporters that additional funds had been allocated in the budget for education and health sectors.

“We have allocated over Rs28 billion for education sector in the budget, two billion rupees more than the last year’s budget, and over Rs17 billion had been allocated for the health sector which was also Rs2 billion more than the last year’s allocation for the sector.”

The Balochistan chief minister has increased the amount of the Balochistan Journalists Welfare Fund from Rs20 million to Rs200 million.

The chief minister has also increased the annual grant of the Quetta Press Club from Rs1 million to Rs10 million.

The welfare fund of Newspapers Hawkers Association has also been increased from Rs500,000 to Rs1 million.

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2016

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