Cabinet meeting gives green signal to Greater Thal project


New excise department stations to be established in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Rahim Yar Khan and Mianwali to keep youth away from drugs, says CM

– Reallocation policy for sugar mills in Punjab terminated to protect sugarcane farmers

-The cabinet expressed complete solidarity with Kashmir people and offered Fateha for Kashmiri martyrs

LAHORE: The meeting of the provincial cabinet at Civil Secretariat here on Monday decided to to get benefit from project readiness financing for Punjab Water Resources Management Programme (WRMP) by starting the second phase of the Greater Thal Canal Project (Chobara Branch Canal System) and accorded approval to take financial assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Presiding over the meeting, Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Sardar Usman Buzdar said that 3.94 lakh acre land in five districts, including Jhang, Khushab, Bhakkar, Layyah and Muzaffargarh will be irrigated through the Chobara Branch Canal System and the project would be completed at the cost of 190 million US dollars. “The project will help people in getting rid of poverty besides increasing agricultural productivity as the availability of ample water will be helpful in growing cash-crops,” he added.

Buzdar announced that ADB will provide 90 per cent funds for the mega project wheres remodelling and up-gradation of the DG Khan canal system will be done at the cost of 60.8 million US dollars.

Meanwhile, up-gradation and rehabilitation of upper Jhelum Canal system will be done through the WRMP with an amount of 170.4 million US dollars. The project of using water of hill-torrents will be completed in DG Khan and Rajanpur at the cost of 310.6 million US dollars. Along with it, Greater Thal Canal Phase-III will be completed with an amount of 600 million dollars to provide water to thousands of acres of land. It will also help in overcoming water-logging and salinity issues.

The meeting also approved steps for immediately removing hurdles in completion of civil work for installing a 24km long 500kv transmission line from Guddu to Muzaffargarh.

Further, the meeting also gave approval to the decision of ending reallocation policy for sugar mills in Punjab; and after this decision, sugar mills would not be relocated to any other area. The chief minister said that the purpose of this policy is to protect sugarcane farmers.

While giving approval for the draft of Punjab Control of Narcotics Substance Act, 2018, the chief minister said that the act will help control narcotics. “New excise department stations will be established in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Rahim Yar Khan and Mianwali so that the youth remains safe from drugs,” he added.

The meeting then approved the reconstitution of the Directorate of Reclamation and Probation and was told by the chief minister that 51,636 prisoners will benefit from this reform which is being done after a long gap of 92 years. “It would help in releasing of prisoners showing good behaviour and those who have had completed their jail terms,” he added.

The meeting also gave approval to the draft of the Punjab Industries Rules, 2019 for dealing with matters pertaining to the control of cement plants and their expansions. Buzdar said that rules and regulations with regard to the establishment of cement plants are being constituted for the first time adding that installation of cement plants will not be allowed in negative areas and further said that this would help in protecting wildlife and forests.

The meeting gave approval to Punjab Sales Tax on Services (Refund) Rules, 2019 along with the approval of proposed amendments in Partnership Act of 1932 to exempt private firms from paying a registration fee. Buzdar said that this would help in ensuring implementation of a policy of bringing ease in businesses and private firms are being provided with the facility of online registration.

The meeting gave approval to the notification relating to the establishment of Mir Chakar Khan Rind University of Technology in DG Khan in addition to various matters including devising the establishment criterion of the search committee to review different matters including experience and qualification required for the posting of vice-chancellor of the university.

Similarly, the cabinet also approved the establishment of a search committee and other necessary laws for posting Punjab University of Technology VC Rasool. The chief minister said that only merit will be given preference for appointing universities’ VCs in Punjab.

The meeting approved notification for the establishment of Punjab Skills Development Authority which will ensure implementation of laws for the establishment of technical institutions. “High standards will be ensured in governmental and private technical institutions to provide a world-class education to the students,” the CM said.

The cabinet also approved Punjab Schools Construction and Rehabilitation Programme and one hundred model schools will be set up under this programme with the cooperation of DFID. Rs1.20 billion will be spent on it while another amount of Rs3.20 billion will be spent on the construction of 2,500 classrooms.

Similarly, one thousand computer labs and an equal number of libraries will be upgraded in schools with an amount of Rs1.64 billion.

The cabinet also approved amendments in Aab Pak Authority Act and decided to scrap duty on Ethanol besides giving approval to amendments in the Family Courts Act, 1964. The meeting approved reconstitution of the board of directors of Punjab Economic Research Institute. It also gave the approval to the exit of Punjab Rural Support Company from public sector companies list of Local Government Department.

The establishment of DG Khan Waste Management Company was also approved.

Matters pertaining to the implementation of federal excise duty on crude oil were reviewed besides matters relating to the enforcement of Article 154 of Constitution of Pakistan 1973.

Towards the end, the provincial cabinet meeting strongly condemned the illegal and unconstitutional step taken by the Modi government to revoke the special status of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir and termed it a nefarious effort to usurp the fundamental rights of Kashmiri people.

The chief minister directed the ministers and assembly members to fully show solidarity with the Kashmiris.

The cabinet expressed complete solidarity with Kashmir people and offered Fateha for the Kashmiri martyrs who became victims to the barbarity of Indian forces and prayed for early recovery of the injured.