Govt announces Rs 600 bln development package for South Balochistan
ISLAMABAD: November 19 - Asad Umar, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives along with Senator Shibli Faraz, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Murad Saeed, Federal Minister for Communication and Ms. Zobaida Jalal, Federal Minister for Defence Production addressing a press conference. APP

ISLAMABAD, Nov 19 (APP):Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar Thursday announced that the government would spend Rs 600 billion on development projects in nine districts of Southern Balochistan during next three years to improve living standard of the local people.

The Federal Government would provide Rs 540 billion, while the rest would be spent by the Balochistan government, he said while addressing a press conference here along with Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz, Minister for Defence Production Zubaida Jalal, and Minister for Communication Murad Saeed.

Asad Umar said the government would also engage the private sector in some development projects in the area.

He said the package was prepared under the special direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan who had firm belief in the development of weak segments of the society.

“The historic package has been prepared with an integrated strategy to ensure that the people belonging to all segments of the society should be benefitted,” he added.

The minister hoped that after the completion of the projects, the most impoverished area of the country would see prosperity and it would become a practical example of PM Imran Khan’s vision of Naya Pakistan.

He said in the past, the non-integrated approach of allocating money for the development projects was adopted. However, “we have now introduced a new system under which all the departments and ministries are engaged collectively.”

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For instance, he said, in the Southern Balochistan, agriculture was the most important source of income for the locals, which needed water and dams would have to be built for the purpose.If water were available, the people started producing fruits and other cash crops along with grains. As the growers did not have resources to sell their produce in big cities, the government would establish industries in their areas to help preserve the products, besides their value addition, he added.

Asad Umar said at present, only 12 percent people of South Balochistan were enjoying the facility of electricity. “Under this package, we will provide electricity to over 57 percent the scattered population of the area and for this off-grid electricity option will also be availed.”

Likewise, he said, the government would build 16 new dams which would irrigate about 150,000 acres of land.

He said around 640,000 children would be given distance education and they would be connected to the teachers in big cities. Under the Waseela Taleem Programme, as many as 83,000 children would be given free education and the government would also pay a monthly stipend of Rs 1,500 each to the parents of boys and Rs 2,000 each to those of girl students.

Similarly, he said, 35,000 youth of the area would be given training to earn as freelancers.

The minister said the area was suitable for olive and date cultivation and the government would establish an olive and three date processing units to help the farmers add value to their produce.

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Asad Umar maintained that in the health sector, 200 health centers would be up-graded.

Under the Sehat Nashonuma Programme, he said, the pregnant ladies and newborn babies would be provided with required food so that the problem of stunting could be prevented.

Asad Umar said under the package, billions of rupees would be spent on the road projects to connect the area with the rest of the country.

Replying to a question, Asad Umar said,”Contrary to the past, we will not only identify the development projects for an area, but also establish an integrated governance structure to ensure their timely implementation.”

To another query, he said first the government had announced a package for the erstwhile FATA, then for Karachi and now for South Balochistan.

The next turn would be of Northern Balochistan, Interior Sindh and Gilgit Baltistan so that Imran Khan’s vision of providing equal opportunities to the people of all areas in the country could be realized, he added.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz said Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced a special package for Balochistan like he did for other parts of the country.

The prime minister was determined to bring progress and prosperity to the backward and far flung areas, he added.