ISLAMABAD: As the deadline for the elimination of electricity loadshedding is approaching fast, the government on Friday approved four different power projects amounting to over Rs45 billion and also decided to launch a scheme to distribute laptops to the students.

As a part of revival plan of Pakistan Railways (PR), the government also decided to add 1,000 bogies and passenger coaches to improve its service at cost Rs31bn.

The decisions were taken in a meeting of the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) held at Prime Minister’s Office with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in chair.

A source, who attended the meeting, told Dawn that provinces had not made any objection on the decisions made by the committee.

It is worth mentioning here that Prime Minister Abbasi had already announced that Pakistan will be ‘a country free of power-cuts by end of Nov’.

“In line with the government’s commitment to overcome the power shortage in the country, special emphasis has been accorded to power projects,” an official press release issued after the meeting said.

The committee approved four power sector projects, including construction of the new 220kv, Guddu-Sibbi single circuit transmission line, for improvement of power supply system in southern areas at a total rationalised cost of Rs8.36bn.

The second one was 500kv, Lahore North Substation, along with associated transmission lines at estimated an cost of Rs20.73bn.

Another, evacuation of power from 1410MW, Terbela 5th extension hydro power project, at a cost of Rs4.14bn and evacuation of power from 1224MW wind power project at Jhimpir clusters at a total rationalised cost of Rs10.75bn.

Ecnec also approved social, education, transport AND communication, and water resources projects and has decided to launch the Prime Minister’s Laptop Scheme (phase-III) at a total revised cost of Rs21.33bn. The PM directed the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to prepare the ‘Laptop-for-all Programme’ that shall provide laptops to all eligible students.

In order to revive crippling PR, the committee decided to procure and manufacture 820 high capacity bogie freight wagons and 230 passenger coaches at a total cost of Rs31.19bn.

The meeting was informed that some of the bogies and coaches will be manufactured in the country while the rest will be imported from China.

It was also informed that the PR was being revived under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the overall refurbishment plan of the department.

The meeting also approved extension of water resources for Faisalabad city (phase-II) at a cost of Rs14.63bn.

It also okayed the Punjab Intermediate Cities Improvement Investment Programme in Sahiwal and Sialkot which will cost Rs26.32bn.

It was decided that the Allama Muhammad Iqbal Award of 3,000 scholarships will be given to Afghan students by HEC at the cost of Rs7.35bn.

The PM has directed HEC to complete the project within three years instead of five, to provide 1,000 scholarships per year.

The meeting approved rehabilitation,up-gradation and widening of Quetta-Dhadher section of N-65 (118.32km) at a cost of Rs7.11bn.

The construction for improvement and widening of Chitral-Ayun-Bumborate Road (48km) was also approved by the committee which will cost Rs4.6bn.

The PM directed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to ensure cultural preservation of the Kalash tribe in collaboration with the civil society and non-governmental organisations.

The design, tendering assistance and construction of Malakand Tunnel Project was also approved at a total revised cost of Rs16.55bn.

The meeting also gave a go-ahead for procurement/construction of six Maritime Patrol Vessels (MPVs) for Pakistan Maritime Security Agency at a revised cost of Rs16.28bn.

The construction of Garuk Storage Dam, District Kharan, Balochistan at a total rationalised cost of Rs10.51bn was also approved.

The committee also decided to establish combined effluent treatment plants for Karachi’s industrial areas including laying of interceptor sewers at a total cost of Rs11.79bn.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2017