LAHORE: Non-issuance of funds to a number of small development schemes have made the life of commoners miserable, as the Punjab government seems no more interested in solving the infrastructure development-related problems in a number of poor and lower-middle class localities, including Katchi Abadies, in Lahore.

Various departments concerned, including the Metropolitan Corporation Lahore, Local Government and Community Development Department, Lahore Development Authority (LDA) and Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) have been trying hard for the last few months to get the funds allocated and released, but to no avail, Dawn has learnt.

The schemes (around 370 in total) worth Rs12 billion tendered by the LDA alone among other departments included construction, repair, carpeting of a large number of streets, roads, intersections in poor/lower middle-class localities situated in various union councils of Lahore city district. The schemes had been approved by the government in March or so after Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz, after assuming the charge, started holding a series of meeting, vowing to solve the civic issues being faced by the public at large.

“The partial allocation/release of funds was made to a few schemes launched in some parts of Lahore, close to the rulers. And still not these schemes are yet to be funded fully. But, a majority of schemes were badly ignored, as not a single penny was released depriving a huge population of the basic civic facilities,” explains an official source.

“A lot of meetings are being held on a daily basis. But there is no output. And I am wondered that the government making tall claims since its existence seems following ‘look busy, do nothing’ pattern,” the official requesting anonymity lashed out at the government while talking to Dawn on Monday.

He said after the government assured providing funds to several schemes, the departments concerned not only floated tenders but also issued orders to start work.

“Reportedly there are some areas, where the work was launched. But, later, the work was stopped after confusing attitude of the government towards release of funds,” the official said, adding that the departments would have to cancel tenders on which huge money was spent in the form of publishing in print media. “This attitude shows that the government is indecisive,” he added.

The official said a number of MPAs and MNAs representing ruling party in Punjab also made efforts individually to get funds for several schemes in their constituencies which proved fruitless.

When contacted, a senior LDA official, told this reporters [that] though the government had announced launch of works on a number of small development schemes in Lahore, it remained indecisive after it indulged in another idea of getting a district package having participation of various departments finalised.

“First the worth of this package consisted of Rs35 billion. Later it reduced. But still there is no clarity that who (which departments) will take lead in launching and completing these schemes. This is the issue which has halted funds,” the officer told this reporter.

Asked as to why the government announced launch of such schemes and why the tenders were floated while there were no funds, he said the government, in fact, wanted to make the package finalised under one umbrella first and then start work in an organised manner.

On the other hand, the residents continue to suffer, as there is no one to resolve their issues. “For the last one year, the residents have been making efforts to get the streets repaired/carpeted. But, now it seems that the government has either denied release of funds or put such most important issues on hold. It is ridiculous,” deplores a resident of a union council in the city.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2024

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