ISLAMABAD: The Central Development Working Party (CDWP) on Tuesday cleared 15 projects costing Rs249.2 billion, mostly in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

The schemes included two larger projects of national outreach, which were referred to the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) for formal approval.

The CDWP’s meeting, presided over by Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, approved 13 projects with an estimated cost of about Rs22.6bn and cleared two other projects of about Rs226.56bn for formal approval by the Ecnec.

Under the current financial rules, the CDWP is empowered to approve projects costing no more than Rs10bn, while the projects of higher estimated costs are approved by Ecnec on the recommendations of the CDWP after clearance on technical grounds.

Approves 13 schemes costing Rs23bn; sends two larger schemes worth Rs227bn to Ecnec

The meeting recommended that Ecnec approve the umbrella Flood Protection Sector Project-III, costing Rs194.6bn. The Ministry of Water Resources is the sponsoring agency of the project, while provincial irrigation departments will execute it.

The project is part of the Rs332bn worth of National Flood Protection Plan-IV formulated after the 2010 massive floods and approved by the Council of Common Interests in May 2017, which could not be implemented over the next five years owing to financial constraints and elapsed political interests until the next super floods hit major parts of the country last year with devastating economic and human costs and foreign funding became available.

Therefore, the overwhelming (80pc) funding to the project worth Rs156bn would flow from multilateral agencies, particularly the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. The federal government would take 10pc equity with Rs19.462bn and another equivalent amount would be provided by the provinces.

Of the total funds, about Rs30bn would be spent in Punjab, Rs51bn in Sindh, Rs14bn in KP and Rs44bn in Balochistan. In addition, Rs11bn in AJK and Rs8bn would be utilised in Gilgit-Baltistan while the remaining Rs35bn would be non-structural technical interventions in relevant agencies of the federal and provincial like Wapda and flood forecasting mechanism.

This would involve 166 flood protection schemes, 457 telemetry stations and five regional forecasting centres in four provincial and AJK headquarters.

After the proposed interventions are implemented under the updated flood protection project, around 3.128 million people will be protected from future floods.

In addition, 17,624 houses, 1.047m acres of agricultural lands, 30 schools, 50 kilometres of metalled road, 64 villages, 223 tube wells and 3,825 farm families will also be protected from future floods.

The project mainly aims to improve countrywide comprehensive flood management approaches on integrated and innovative bases by implementing structural and non-structural interventions proposed under the national flood protection plan.

The major objectives of the project are to reduce flood losses to private and public infrastructure in an economically sound manner, protecting urban and rural populations, agricultural lands and vital infrastructure installation.

It also involves technical feasibility and detailed design studies of barrages, bridges and hydraulic structures, which need to be remodelled and upgradation of existing flood forecasting and warning facilities for better flood forecasting.

The project is expected to increase agriculture and urban land values in areas directly protected from flood protection works and create jobs during the construction of the project and maintenance afterwards.

It will also provide a better sense of security against the inundation of the crops, houses and other rural and urban properties in flood-prone areas and help increase the expansion and establishment of industrial, housing and infrastructure development.

The CDWP also recommended a revised Sehat Sahulat Programme as per its approved cost of Rs31.93bn to the Ecnec.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2023

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