Two years on, govt’s fish culture acceleration project lies pending


–Negligence mars fisheries dept’s ‘Delivery of Better Extension Services to Accelerate Fish Culture Practices’ project

–DGM&E report says physical progress on project is lesser than financial progress

–Fisheries sub-engineer says all funds utilised in ‘best way possible’ while dept deputy director pleads ignorance

LAHORE: Due to the slow pace of work, hitches in the disbursement of funds and delays in land acquisition, Punjab Department of Fisheries’ “Delivery of Better Extension Services to Accelerate Fish Culture Practices” project has been left in limbo, Pakistan Today has learnt.

According to sources, the project had been started by the Punjab government in order to produce additional 3.20 million seeds of culturable and other fish species annually and procure additional 350 acres of land under fish culture through the provision of better fish seed supply and extension services.

The objectives of the project were to increase improved fish seed production capacity through the establishment of a fish seed hatchery in Lahore and provide better extension services to fish farmers through the establishment of four fish seed nursery units in districts lacking the facility.

It was also aimed to produce an additional three million quality fish seed of culturable fish species for stocking in public and private sector and production of 0.20 million seed of larvivorous fish for biological control of dengue vector.

Other goals of the project included monitoring 1,000 fish farms for water quality and disease diagnosis and on-site training of 1,000 fish farmers on farm management supplementary feeding and fish husbandry practice.

Pakistan Today further learnt that the project was initially planned to start in July 2015 which had to be ended in June 2018, however, it was launched in June 2017 and the locations of the project included Lahore, Narowal, Mandi Bahauddin, Chiniot, Nankana Sahib and Pakpattan.

“The project is behind the schedule as the planned completion date was June 30, 2018, and the physical progress is lesser than the financial progress,” a report of the Directorate General Monitoring and Evaluation (DGM&E) said.

It added that the project quality plans, quality checklists and approved methodologies are not available on site.

“There is no site laboratory and lab equipment was not found. There was a delay in the execution of the project due to lack of planning. Selection criteria related to land and its acquisition process must have been adopted to initiate the work efficiently before the onset of such project. The project was approved on 02-01-2015, however, the funds were released during 2016-17.”

The project exceeded its framed timeline and planned end date, the report said.

“Data provided by the department revealed that there are a total of 5,858 farms in Punjab, out of which 31 are operational in Pakpattan, 40 in Lahore, 118 in Narowal, 130 in Nankana and 308 farms in Mandi Bahauddin. As per data provided by the department, the farms in Pakpattan and Lahore are less in quantity. According to the project officials and documentation, it was observed that pieces of land for establishing the civil components in five districts were procured after the project was started”.

“Work in Lahore has not yet been started since after the acquisition of land. A project management unit (PMU) was planned in PC – I but as per notified policy of S&GAD, an independent PMU is only provided for the projects having a cost more than Rs.1,000 million and for this reason, the PMU was excluded in the project with the utilisation of Rs. 10.33 million funds with no justification provided by the department,” the report said.

It added that the department needs to justify why the staff (except security guards) was hired when establishment work was not finished.

Speaking to Pakistan Today, Punjab Fisheries Sub-Engineer Nasir Ahmed said the report “did not matter to the department” because it no longer had any funds. “Whatever funds we had were utilised in the best way possible.”

Punjab Fisheries Deputy Director Rana Amanat Ali said he was “unaware of the matter” but recalled that there were some financial constraints and issues in land acquisition. “I was posted at the project site of Narowal for two to three months, but I am no more concerned with the project as I have been posted to another site,” he said.