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Govt lethargy stalls Gwadar’s projects, Senate body told

https://www.dawn.com/news/1379722

Kalbe AliUpdated December 30, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Planning and Development was informed here on Friday that lethargic attitude of the Balochistan government was responsible for delaying water supply projects in Gwadar.

The committee was told that a master plan for Gwadar would be finalised by August next year, but the local authorities were already issuing no-objection certificates (NOCs) for building commercial and housing schemes in Gwadar which should be stopped.

The committee’s meeting, presided over by Senator retired Col Syed Tahir Mashhadi, was informed about the serious water shortage in Gwadar.

Taking part in the discussion, members of the committee said the current requirement of freshwater in Gwadar was around 6.5 million gallons per day (MGD), but only 2MGD was available. By 2022, they said, the demand for water was expected to reach 13MGD.

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Planning Secretary Shoaib Siddiqui told the committee that there were four options to meet the water requirements of Gwadar, but files about these options had been on the table of the Balochistan chief secretary for months. The chief secretary had taken no decision on the crucial issue so far.

“The provincial government has to take a decision. We need to set up desalination plants. The port operator wants to establish one plant; another company wants to establish a plant on a commercial basis. There is [also] a proposal for a joint venture between a foreign company and the Frontier Works Organisation, and the prime minister in his recent visit to Balochistan offered execution of water projects through development programmes. But what we need is the approval of the provincial government concerned,” Mr Siddiqui said.

He was of the opinion that the federal or provincial governments could not operate the desalination plants and only a commercial operator could manage and maintain them; otherwise the machines and the systems would become non-functional within a few months.

Mr Siddiqui said the committee should call the chief secretary in the next meeting to speed up the matter. The committee decided to form a sub-committee, headed by Senator Agha Shahzaib Durrani, on the subject.

Mr Siddiqui said the master plan for Gwadar would be prepared by August next year. He requested the committee to restrict the Balochistan government from issuing NOCs for housing schemes in the area.

Senator Mohsin Leghari said the situation vis-a-vis urban development across the country showed that implementation of Gwadar’s master plan would be a challenge.

The committee was also briefed on the implementation of different phases of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the chairman of the committee inquired about the social impact of cross-border road development in remote areas of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Senator Karim Khawaja said that cultural and social impact on people after interaction with the Chinese nationals would be positive. “We will be less extremist and more liberal and secular in our approach, which is badly needed; we all will learn many things from them,” he said.

Published in Dawn, December 30th, 2017

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