The Senate Standing Committee on Planning Development and Special Initiatives in its meeting on Monday at Parliament House took up issues related to rehabilitation of electricity distribution infrastructure in District Kohat; construction of Khalifa Bridge over the Indus in Tehsil Rojhan connecting Rajan Our and Rahim Yar Khan; and the Balochistan Development Package (South). Matters related to the Diamer Bhasha Dam awareness campaign and irregularities were discussed as well.
Chaired by Senator Agha Shahzaib Durrani, the meeting was attended by Senator Hidayat Ullah, Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmed, Senator Gianchand, Senator Usman Khan Kakar, Senator Mir Kabeer Ahmed Muhammad Shahi, and senior officers from the Ministry of Planning Development and Special Initiatives, Cabinet Division, Power Divison, along with all concerned. Senator Shamim Afridi and MNA Sardar Riaz Mehmood Khan Mazari were special invitees at the meeting.
The meeting commenced with deliberation over the awareness campaign aired on different TV channels regarding the Diamer Bhasha Dam. Secretary Ministry of Information and Broadcasting informed the Committee that the campaign did not involve any public money and that the airing of 245000 spots and 282000 Public Service Messages took place according to an agreement with TV Channels that the government will get 10 percent of total airing time on different channels for Public Service Messages. The Committee enquired claims related to the Supreme Court advertisement; according to which PKR 10 billion was spent on Public Service Messages. The Committee in addition to this also highlighted irregularities in terms of land payments. Chairman Committee, Senator Agha Shahzaib Durrani was of the view that audit reports must be examined to check for misappropriation. Names of the members of the Diamir Bhasha Dam were shared with the Committee.
Regarding installation of the bridge in Malakand area that was dismantled due to work on the Mohmand Dam, the Committee was assured that according to the resettlement plan it shall be restored to ensure connectivity.
Discussing the updated implementation status of a matter regarding various approved schemes of rehabilitation of electricity distribution infrastructure in District Kohat; the Committee was informed that the list regarding energizing 13 transformers within 24 hours was handed over to the concerned PESCO CEO with directions to verify the sites and energize all completed transformers. A survey has also been initiated for the verification of material stored at different sites required for completion of the said schemes. The Committee was informed that once the survey is completed details will be submitted to the Committee. Chairman Committee, Senator Agha Shahzaib, Durrani stressed the need for coordination between agencies. He asserted that CEO PESCO must get together with officials concerned of the Power Division at the office of Additional Secretary Ministry of Planning, and resolve the matter at the earliest. Compliance details must be submitted to the Committee.
While taking the issue of construction of Khalifa Bridge over River Indus Miran Pur linking N-55 at Arbi Tibba with RY Khan, raised by MNA Sardar Riaz Mehmood Khan; the Committee was informed that the bridge was donated / constructed by the UAE. The scheme was initially approved and later a revised PC-1 cost estimate was discussed at the 72nd meeting of PDWP, and deferred. Finally as intimated by General Manager (Planning) NHA that the scheme is reflected in PSDP 2019-20 of Communications Division with an allocation of PKR 500.000 (M), however,the scheme is not reflected in provincial ADP 2020-21. Chairman Committee, stating this another glaring example of Federal/Provincial coordination breach, was of the view that the Ministry of Planning must ensure that this issue is sorted at the earliest. The Committee stressed the need to devise a mechanism to fix responsibility, and any negligence must lead to strict disciplinary action.
Discussing the Southern Balochistan Development Package; the Committee expressed strong reservations regarding the briefing, as key details of the projects were missing. Members also objected to the segregation of Balochistan into North and South regions.
Senator M. Usman Khan Kakar said that the amount specified for the Southern Balochistan Package is insufficient and it is feared that this amount will not be disbursed. He asserted that a similar package must be formulated for the rest of Balochistan as well, since the province has the least developed districts in the country.