PA passes resolution showering praise on OLMT in absence of Opp

  • House pays rich tribute to China for providing Punjab govt with Rs 33 billion for transport project

The Punjab Assembly reverberated with praise for the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project on Tuesday, as the House passed a resolution with a simple majority while paying rich tribute to China for providing the provincial government with a sum of Rs 33 billion for the transport project.

The resolution, moved out of turn by Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, received a huge approval by the treasury benches. Nevertheless, there were only three members sitting on the opposition benches when the resolution was tabled.

Taking the floor of the House, Faiza Malik, a lawmaker from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), scathingly criticised the OLMT project in her speech. She said that the funds earmarked for the education and health sectors were being allocated to this project.

Faiza wondered why the government had moved this resolution by suspending the routine business of the House in the absence of a number of opposition members. According to her, the developments funds of as many as 19 departments were being allocated to the Orange Line project. “The funds earmarked for South Punjab are also being funneled into this project” she said, and asked the government to reconsider its priorities.

According to the points of the resolution, 0.25 million people would travel on Orange Line Metro Train daily in the first stage, while the figure would reach 0.5 million in the second stage.

“This House thanks our brotherly country China as Rs 33 billion has been transferred in the first trench to the account of Punjab government by the country,” the resolution read.

The mover of the resolution, Rana Sanaullah, said that the OLMT project was not for the citizens of Lahore alone, as according to an estimate one to 1.5 million people from other cities also visited the provincial capital on a daily basis and they would also be facilitated through this transport project.

Hitting out at the opposition, he said, “No one criticised when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the Green Line project in Karachi because it was the need of the country’s business-hub. “Likewise, Orange Line train is the need of Lahore,” he added.

Sanaullah also told the House that Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif had decided to present all the documentation regarding the OLMT project to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Transparency International (TI) to make it more transparent.

According to the minister, the project would be completed at a cost of Rs 147 billion by the end of 2017.

Praising the project, Dr Waseem Akhtar, parliamentary leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami, on his turn said that such projects were the need of big cities like Lahore. “I am not against it, but the government must also do something for far-flung areas of the province to mitigate the sense of deprivation of people living there,” said Akhtar, who himself comes from Bahawalpur.

Earlier in the day, the House unanimously passed a resolution condemning United States’ announcement to continue drone strikes inside Pakistan. Another resolution urging the government to take action against profiteers and hoarders during the holy month of Ramzan also sailed through the House unanimously. The session was adjourned till Wednesday, meanwhile.