MULTAN -  Director General Agriculture (extension) Punjab Dr Anjum Ali admitted that cottonseed was sowed on 20 percent less area than that of the last year.

However, he said, 7.3 million bales were likely to be produced from Punjab. Giving statistics, he disclosed that cotton was sowed on 5.5 million acres last year while this year the total area under cotton was 4.3 million.

Briefing the media here at Central Cotton Research Institute on cotton crop condition on Wednesday, he said that the government offered Rs. 400 subsidy on urea and Rs. 300 DAP which resulted into increase in fertiliser consumption. He added that the plant population was also better than the last year. Citing PCGA fortnightly report, he said that the Association’s first report confirmed arrival of 1.9 million bales at ginneries which indicated a positive crop this year. He said that the government allocated Rs100 billion to give interest free loans to the holders of up to 12 acres of land.

He added that the major reason behind a decline in the cotton sowing area was low prices in national and international markets. He said that the cotton crop faced pest attack due to increase in temperature in September and October but an effective strategy had been evolved to cope with the attack of white fly and other pests. He said that the registration of farmers at land record centres in 143 tehsils of Punjab was underway and they would be given Rs. 25000 loan for Kharif and Rs. 40000 Rabi season each in next year. He further revealed that each farmer would be given a smart phone worth Rs. 5000 at the rate of just Rs. 110.

He said that the distribution of over one lac bags of seed in 23,000 villages of the province was underway while 50 percent subsidy on agricultural tools under a programme to promote mechanised farming in 2,472 had also been offered to the farmers. He declared that the government would bear 60 per cent of total expenditure for shifting 28000 acres of land to drip and sprinkler irrigation system from conventional watering methods.

METRO STAFF RECRUITED: The Punjab Mass Transit Authority has completed required staff for Multan Metro Bus System and their training is underway at Command and Control Centre of Lahore Metro Bus System.

Similarly, the Daewoo Bus Company, which has got contract for running the busses on metro route in Multan, also recruited 300 workers including 100 drivers. Sources said that the drivers were currently in a training phase to run metro busses as test drive on the metro route had also been launched. The company will deploy staff at ticket booths and the training of ticketing staff has been completed. Metro sources said that latest ticketing machinery was being installed at the booths while the busses would also contain the ticketing devices.

The staff recruited by the Mass Transit Authority included managers, operational supervisors and field inspectors. The operation supervisors discharge the duties of keeping eye on movement of busses through CCTV cameras, clearance of routes and billing of busses. They will also issue instructions to the staff for rescue operation in case any bus goes out of order on the route. Similarly, the field inspectors will be given the duties to monitor flyovers, metro stations, lifts and escalators.

A proposal to set up a camp office consisting seven containers near Chungi No-9 rotary was under consideration and it would be shifted to command and control building after its construction.