SAHIWAL: The Rs18 billion development package for Sahiwal claimed and announced by the Punjab government is actually majorly financed by the Asian Development Bank (ABD) as part of the Punjab Intermediate Cities Improvement Investment Programme (PICIIP) for the twin cities of Sialkot and Sahiwal.

Under the programme, a total of Rs40bn has been allocated to civic development of the two cities out of which Rs32bn has been provided by the ADB and Rs8bn by the provincial government.

The project had been originally conceived during the previous PML-N government in 2016-17, but took three years to take off the ground.

Dr Omer Jahangir, the programme director, told Dawn that different phases of the project were under way with two separate master plans.

Under the scheme, Rs40bn allocated to Sahiwal, Sialkot both; Rs32bn provided by ADB, Rs8bn by Punjab govt

Interestingly, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Governor Chaudhry Sarwar and Prime Minister Imran Khan had separately visited Sahiwal and inaugurated different phases of the PICIIP apparently for political reasons.

Sahiwal city has a population of around 444,000 and this is the biggest project in its history comprising intrinsic municipal problems, including provision of clean drinking water, disposal of solid waste and improving sewerage lines. Experts say the project will cater to the needs of the local population till 2044.

Project documents show Sahiwal city divided into 12 sub-zones called neighbourhood councils (NC). Furthermore, Rs2.2bn, Rs8.8bn and Rs301.7m would be spent on clean drinking water supply, rebuilding sewerage lines and purchasing of solid waste management equipment, respectively.

The water supply scheme will cater to 554,000 citizens and the 547-kilometre decades-old contaminated water pipeline be replaced, 28 tube wells installed, four water reservoirs and 10 filtration plants established in the next two years. Similarly, the new sanitation system will benefit over a million citizens. A 91km trunk of sewerage lines would also be laid; 13 wastewater pumping stations replaced with two centralised pumping stations that will reduce 15 per cent electricity usage. Farid Town Park, Chamzaar Park and Fateh Sher Park would be upgraded to recreational parks with Rs154m replete with gym and jogging facilities.

Any delays in the work and progress would be monitored from a centralised control room, said Commissioner Nadir Chattha. Two-tier committees have been set up for project realisation at the local level that will look into the implementation strategy, monitor day to day progress and resolve any emerging conflicts.

The ‘City Coordination Committee’ (CCC) will comprise 19 members and ‘Project Coordination Committee’ for each of the 12 sub-zones will have 13 members each. The commissioner and Municipal Corporation chief corporation officer will separately head both committees as convenor or administrator.

Interestingly, most of the members of both committees are heads of various divisional- and district-level line departments, including Provincial Minister for Planning and Development Nauman Langriyal, and the local chamber of commerce and industry president. The committees have excluded any representation from the civil society including journalists, women and local non-governmental organisations.

Ali Raza, chief engineer of the project, while talking to Dawn over the phone rejected the impression of not taking local stakeholders on board. He said under the ADB’s proposal for the PICIIP, there was no master plan. “Later, it was decided that a 25-year master plan must be devised for which a District Planning and Design Committee was formed by taking on board all stakeholders,” he added.

PICIIP Public Relations Officer Ms Nosheen told Dawn that during implementation, a special media awareness campaign would be initiated for the general masses.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2021

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