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Rs10bn development package for capital's rural areas announced.

Byline: Kashif Abbasi

ISLAMABAD -- The government has announced a Rs10 billion development package for the capital that will aim to improve sewerage and sanitation, the water supply system and roads.

The project was approved on Wednesday by the National Economic Council (NEC), which is headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The NEC also approved the formation of the Islamabad Development Working Party (IDWP), which will be headed by the chief commissioner, as the head of the provincial government. It will include representatives from the ministries of finance, planning and other sectors and will be allowed to approve development projects of up to Rs60 million.

The approved summary stated that 'special intervention' for development in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) 'has been planned for first time in the history.'

'For this purpose, a special package of about Rs10 billion is being launched to improve sewerage and sanitation, water supply and roads in ICT,' it said.

Project was approved by NEC, which also gave go-ahead to formation of Islamabad Development Working Party

Sources said the package is solely for Islamabad's rural areas, where 31 out of the capital's 50 union councils are located and where no large-scale development work has been carried out in years.

The capital saw little development activity after the Musharraf regime, and work has practically halted in the last few years.

The formation of the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI), which is responsible for municipal functions and development activity such as ensuring smooth water supply and handling the sewerage and sanitation systems, in 2016 saw less attention to such projects. Neither the PML-N government, not its successor the PTI, provided funding to the budding local government.

Although the NEC approved the Rs10bn development package for the capital on Wednesday, it has not been stated whether the work will be executed by the MCI, the Capital Development Authority or the ICT administration.

However, sources said there is some likelihood the ICT administration will be in the driving seat, as the IDWP will be chaired by the chief commissioner.

Sources said the administration has the role of a provincial government, and could carry out development programmes in the rural areas.

When asked about the role of the MCI, an ICT administration officer said: 'There is no bar on the MCI carrying out development work. They can also carry out work but the ICT, being the provincial government, will play its role in the development of the rural areas.'

He added that the capital's urban area is supposed to be developed and maintained by the CDA.

Sources said that the development package is sorely needed, as Islamabad's population has been facing a water shortage and poor road and sanitation networks.

When contacted, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on CDA Affairs Ali Nawaz Awan, who is a local MNA, confirmed that the package is solely for the rural areas.

'This is a big development, as a mega package has been launched for the rural areas of Islamabad. The IDWP has also been restored to approve development projects for rural areas,' he said.

The IDWP was abolished by the last government several years ago, and large-scale development initiatives have not been carried out in the rural areas since.

Mr Awan said that in addition to other projects, an overhead bridge in Bhara Kahu and the extension of Islamabad Expressway from Koral to the G.T. Road will also be executed through this package. Under the package, development programmes will be made part of the Public Sector Development Programme in the upcoming budget.
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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:May 30, 2019
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