August 29, 2019: The government’s agenda for enhancing agriculture productivity, improving water management, making Pakistan green, giving Karachi a facelift and introducing decentralised decision-making dominated the proceedings of Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) which met here at the Cabinet Block to mull and approve various development projects worth about Rs 579 billion today.
The ECNEC meeting chaired by Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Revenue & Finance, also approved National Programme for Improvement of Watercourse in Pakistan Phase-II to be undertaken in all federating units at a cost of Rs 154.542 billion for capacity building of 76,359 Water User Associations for partipatory irrigation management, improvement of 59,427 watercourses across the country and construction of 16,932 water storage tanks and ponds at the farm level with the larger goal of curbing water losses, social mobilisation through capacity building of Water Users Associations, minimisation of conveyance and field application losses, reduction in water-logging and salinity, equity in water distribution, reduction in water disputes, thefts & litigations, poverty reduction through employment generation and increase in crop yields and sufficiency in food.
The ECNEC further approved eight major projects related to the agriculture sector at a cost of about Rs 95 billion, including Productivity Enhancement of Wheat at Rs 30.455 billion, Productivity Enhancement of Rice at Rs 15.789 billion, Productivity Enhancement of Sugarcane at Rs 4.935 billion, National Oilseeds Enhancement Programme (NOEP) at Rs 10.963 billion, Cage Culture Cluster Development Programme at Rs 9.081 billion, Pilot Shrimp Farming Cluster Development Project at Rs 6.160 billion, Water Conservation in Barani Areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at Rs 14.178 billion and Prime Minister’s Initiative for Save the Calf at Rs 3.401 billion.
The ECNEC approved Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme Phase-1, Up-scaling of Green Pakistan Programme at a cost of Rs 125.184 billion for plantation of 3.30 billion spalings, including 10 % fruit trees, across Pakistan to promote eco-tourism, conserve and develop forests, increase income of local people from the sale of forest products, increase rangelands & pastures, enhance protective functions of watersheds for regulating their water regime, promote local flora and fauna and manage national wildlife parks, sanctuaries and national biosphere reserves.
The ECNEC also approved Construction of BRT Red Line Project Karachi at a cost of Rs 78.384 billion to develop a dedicated corridor of 24.2 km from Numaish to Malir Halt Depot and a common corridor of 2.4 km from Municipal Park to Merewether Tower along MA Jinnah Road with a view to enhancing the quality of public transport, shift motor vehicle users to public transport and reduce traffic congestion in the city. Out of the total 26.6 km length of corridor, 22.45 km would be at grade section, 1.72 km elevated and 2.43 km underground section. The project also includes construction of 29 bus stations, 8 off-corridor routes, including direct and feeder services, procurement of 199 buses using bio-methane gas from cattle waste as fuel and comprising three types 9m, 12m and 18m, provision of ITS equipment and security systems and allied equipments.
The ECNEC also approved 500 KV HVDC Transmission System between Tajikistan and Pakistan for Central Asia-South Asia Transmission Interconnection (CASA-1000) project at a cost of Rs 46.804 billion to provide reliable and uninterrupted power supply to consumer and to export any surplus power to other countries.
The ECNEC also approved Sehat Sahulat Programme covering 2.7 million families all over Pakistan at a cost of Rs 31.935 billion to improve the health status of the population by providing it quality healthcare and enhancing coverage and access t secondary & priority indoor treatment of the poor and vulnerable population.
In order to improve water resources and quality of sewerage system in Karachi, the ECNEC also approved Karachi Water & Sewerage Services Improvement Project (KWSSIP) Phase-I at a cost of US$ 105.21 million (Rs 16.708 billion). The project will facilitate and improve the capacity of Karachi Water & Sewerage Board in the provision of improved water and sanitation services to the residents of Karachi and to carry out routine functions o operation & management of infrastructure and facilities.
The ECNEC also approved the Sindh Secondary Education Improvement Program (SSEIP) to be implemented all over Sindh at a cost of Rs 13.103 billion for the construction of new secondary schools in 160 existing primary schools, to impart training to 2630 teachers in five major subjects and 485 BISE staff and to provide lab equipment to 660 schools.
The ECNEC also granted approval to a project for Interconnection of Isolated Gwadar/Makran Area with national Grid System of Pakistan at a cost of Rs 17.421 billion to provide adequate facilities for reliable and stable supply of power to the Gwadar area.
The ECNEC also approved a proposal for revision of sanctioning powers of ECNEC for considering projects costing over Rs 10 billion, CDWP for projects from Rs 3 billion to Rs 10 billion and federal level DDWP for projects from Rs 60 million to Rs 2 billion, and further allowed submission of the summary to the Prime Minister for implementation till a formal approval of the proposal by NEC.