KARACHI: The World Bank has agreed to finance a $100m project to restore Karachi’s old city areas from Pakistan Chowk to Empress Market, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said on Saturday.

The project includes renovation of roads, water supply, drainage lines, buildings and parks, along with the construction of some roads in Korangi and Malir. Besides agreeing to support the reconstruction or rehabilitation of the Sukkur barrage, the World Bank also committed $63 million to the Sindh Nutrition Programme.

A high-powered delegation of the World Bank, visiting Pakistan this week, met the chief minister on Saturday. CEO Kristalina Georgieva led the delegation and was joined by South Asia vice president Annette Dixon, Pakistan country director Patchamuthu Illangovan, strategy and operations director Franz Drees-Gross and programme leader Inamula Haq, among others.

CM Shah was joined by Ministers Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani and Mumtaz Jakhrani, Chief Secretary Rizwan Memon, ACS (development) M. Waseem, Energy Secretary Agha Wasif and Finance Secretary Hassan Naqvi.

Irrigation

Terming the Sukkur barrage the lifeline of Sindh’s agro-economy, CM Shah told the delegation that it had served the people of Sindh for 83 years and had approached the end of its logical age.

“We have the option of either rehabilitating [the barrage] or constructing a new one in its place. The construction of a new barrage would be inevitable even if the old one was rehabilitated,” he said, adding that it wasn’t only Sukkur barrage that needed to be rehabilitated or reconstructed, but the entire canal system along with it.


####Karachi’s old city localities to be rehabilitated

The World Bank chief said she had perused the Sukkur barrage case and that the Bank supported it. However, the matter of whether it would be reconstructed or renovated was yet to be decided. She asked for further details of studies of the barrage before finalising a decision in this regard.

The chief minister directed ACS Waseem to coordinate with the World Bank’s country office in Islamabad and to provide them the necessary documents to strengthen the case for funds for the project.

Briefing the World Bank team on the high ratio of stunted growth among mothers and infants in the province, the CM said the government, with the support of Unicef, had conducted a Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS) which had made some startling disclosures.

The survey says that due to a shortage of necessary nutrients among girls before their marriage and among the mothers and newborns, the growth of children was affected badly. The survey showed that the stunt rate in Sindh was 48 per cent. He added that a shortage of nutrition among mothers and their children also stunted their height. The wasting rate, signifying low weight for height, has been measured at 15 per cent. The rate is a predictor of mortality among children under five and is usually the result of acute shortage of food or disease.

CM Shah said his government had worked out a nutrition plan to provide micro nutrients to mothers and children up to the age of 5. The supplements would also be given to girls of marriageable age. He said under the plan, the stunting and wasting rates would be brought down by five per cent in the first five years and then another five per cent in the next five years.

Investment

The government is planning a one-window facility for businessmen and investors at the Board of Investment building under its ‘Ease of Doing Business Programme’.

The chief minister said at present investors had to make multiple trips to almost 12 departments to obtain NoCs for investment or to expand business activities. The one-window operation would facilitate investors and businessmen in completing the required formalities.

The World Bank delegation offered help in developing a web portal for the Ease of Doing Business Programme and urged the government to start working on it right away, as it would be a retroactive financing project.

ACS Waseem was asked to finalise the schemes under the project so that work on the project could begin as soon as possible.

Energy Secretary Agha Wasif told the delegation that the Sindh government was generating 650MW from wind power projects and another 650MW two projects, running on renewable energy sources, would be completed by June 2017 and June 2018, respectively.

The delegation said that the World Bank’s IFC organisation, which supports and promotes renewable energy projects, would coordinate with the Sindh government to implement and install solar and wind energy-based power projects.

Published in Dawn January 29th, 2017