QUETTA: Balochistan has decided to launch health cards to provide free medical services to 1.8 million families across the province for three years.

The decision was approved during the provincial cabinet’s meeting on Friday. The government had already allocated Rs5bn in the current financial year for the health cards and it was decided to immediately roll out the scheme.

The cabinet meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo, discussed a 63-point agenda, including the review of the Quetta Safe City Project.

The cabinet members expressed displeasure over the attitude of Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) and claimed that neither gas was being supplied to Balochistan nor the PPL was paying outstanding dues worth Rs30bn to the Balochistan government.

A committee comprising provincial ministers Syed Ehsan Shah, and Zamrak Khan Achakzai, advisor Nawabzada Gohram Khan Bugti, and parliamentary secretary Mir Umar Khan Jamali has been formed to take up the issue with the Centre.

The committee will meet the prime minister and PPL officials soon in this regard.

CM Bizenjo said the PPL’s attitude was “intolerable” and these companies have been “exploiting” Balochistan for 75 years.

He said natural gas was Balochistan’s biggest source of income and the province has the power to stop the gas supply. “But we do not want to go to that extent.”

According to the Constitution the areas where resources were discovered have the first right to benefit from them, Mr Bizenjo said, adding since the production of gas started in Sui in 1954, Balochistan has not been given its due share.

He said that if the province’s position on the matter was not taken seriously, it will take steps according to the Constitution to demand its rights.

The cabinet also endorsed the amendment to Article 160 of the Constitution under which the share of any province in the NFC award could not be less than last year’s share.

The meeting also reviewed the Balochistan government’s advertisement policy 2023 and approved the amendments made in the policy to allow the government to issue advertisements to newspapers, TV and digital media.

The meeting approved compensation payment to the Pishin fire victims and decided to establish a committee for the implementation of Phase-1 of the national curriculum from grade 6 to grade 8.

The cabinet also decided to declare technical education as a mandatory service and approved the National Commission for Mines Act, 2022.

The meeting also gave a nod to amendments in Balochistan Drugs and Therapeutic Goods Rules, 2021 and also passed the Community Lead Local Government Ordinance policy. With the approval of this policy, the coordination of the government will also be included in the community-based projects funded by donor agencies.

The compensation policy for the martyred personnel of Levies was also approved in the meeting.

The cabinet also decided to permanently employ intern teachers in Kech and Awaran districts.

It approved the transfer of the ownership rights of the 5,050 acres of land in Dera Murad Jamali to Jamali Town. The cabinet decided to establish a committee regarding the extension of the Sui Mining Lease.

Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2023

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