Chairman Young Pakistanis Organization Naeem Iqbal Naeem on said that South Punjab, a culturally rich and agriculture hub of Punjab province, always remained neglected in terms of civic facilities towards the local people.
“The region comprised of 11 districts with population of about 35 million. For last 15 years, the backward area was being focused gradually by different governments including Pakistan People Party, Pakistan Muslim League (N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. However, south Punjab is lagging behind in Human Development Index (HDI) if compared to other parts of Punjab province.”
He said “During PPP regime in 2008-2013, Ex-Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani announced mega projects for the region including eight flyovers in Multan city, Multan International Airport, Head Muhammadwala Bridge, Jalalpur Pirwala Bridge, COMSAT University Vehari and many other mega projects.”
“Similarly, PML-N government led by ex-Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and ex CM Punjab and current PM Shehbaz Sharif gave gift of Metro Bus Service, Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif Hospital, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Agriculture, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Engineering etc. Similarly, last government of Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaf started work on south Punjab secretariat in order to resolve public problems locally, he informed.
Additional Chief Secretary was deputed in the region. Similarly, offices of 16 provincial ministries were also established in Multan and Bahawalpur. Similarly, the work on Nishtar-II and Mother & Child Care Hospital was also started.
“Despite all these initiatives, the region is backwards and it require many uplift projects to bring this neglected region at par to other parts of Punjab province,” said Chairman Young Pakistanis Organization Naeem Iqbal Naeem while talking to APP.
According to United Nations Development Programme report issued during last February, about 45 people in south Punjab lacked sanitation facilities. Child labour rate in south Punjab is 19 % while in upper Punjab, it is 11 percent. Labourers per hour income are Rs 65 in the region. However, it Rs95 in upper Punjab. South Punjab is also backward in terms industry and employment opportunities as there is 15% industry with 17 % jobs for local people. UNDP report also reveals, 43 kids out of 1000, die at time of birth in the backward region. Similarly, 39 % kids also faced with issue of stunted growth.
“In order to address all problems, Punjab government has allocated Rs 240 billion for 2009 uplift projects including 1548 ongoing and 461 new projects,” said Additional Chief Secretary Saqib Zafar.
“The amount is 35% of the total development budget of Punjab province, which is Rs 685 billion. About last year allocations and spending, Zafar maintained that Rs 181 billion, out of total released amount of Rs 186 billion were spent on different uplift projects in south Punjab. Thus, the funds utilization remained 97%.”
ACS Saqib also informed that huge funds were being spent on improvement of road, health and education infrastructure to bring the region at par to other areas of the province.
According to Planning & Development department of south Punjab, the work on extension of Cardiology Institute of Multan, Cardiology Institute Dera Ghazi Khan, Mother and Child Healthcares in Multan, Layyah, Bahawalnagar, Rajanpur, Buildings in Khawaja Fareed University, Nishtar-II, Shiekh Zaid Hospital-II, Seven Storey Parking Palaza for 1000 vehicles at District Bar Multan, Daulization of Vehari-Multan road, Establishment of Mir Chakir Khan Rind University of Technology DG Khan, Sorra Dam, Multan Ring Road, Construction of Building at Ghazi University DG Khan, 2nd Phase of building of Khawaja Ghulam Fareed University of Engineering, Information and Technology, Dualization of road from Uch Sharif to Ahmed Pur East, Dualization of Kehror Pakka-Mailsi-Vehari road, Development of Bahawalpur Industrial Estate and many other uplift projects would surely help local people and improve their living standards.