ISLAMABAD                   -                  Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) has approved four major projects at a cost of nearly Rs250 billion.

The ECNEC meeting was held with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair. The meeting discussed a proposal for the construction of Lodhran-Multan Section (North Bound 62 kms) of N-5 and construction of 2 flyovers at Railways Crossing at Lodhran Bypass and approved the project at cost of Rs 12.434 billion. Under the project to be completed in 24 months, beside road two flyovers along with three interchanges at Super Chowk and Permit ChowkLodhran and an interchange at Bahawalpur Chowk Multan would be built. Besides, four minor bridges as well as reconstruction & widening of culverts and urban area improvement at BastiMalook, Multan City and Larr Town would also be carried out under the project. The reconstruction of existing two-lane northbound and construction of flyovers, interchanges and area improvements would help reduce traffic hazard and congestion on the project road and after completion of the project, a safe, reliable and efficient road facility would be available to the commuters.

The ECNEC also approved a project titled ‘Punjab Human Capital Investment Project’ at a cost of Rs32 billion to strengthen primary health facilities, introduce conditional cash transfer program to encourage the poor to access the health and nutrition support, support economic inclusion for the young parents with children for poverty alleviation and expand and strengthen early childhood education. The project to be completed in five years would be rolled out in 11 less-developed districts of Punjab, including Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, Bhakkar, Dera Ghazi Khan, Khushab, Layyah, Lodhran, Mianwali, Muzaffargarh, Rahim Yar Khan and Rajanpur.

The ECNEC also considered and approved Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Irrigated Agriculture Improvement Project (KP-IAIP) at a cost of Rs 30 billion for improvement of 14,260 watercourses, installation of 10,000 acres high-efficiency irrigation system, construction of 5000 water storage tanks, provision of 500 laser land levelers, capacity building, strategic studies and value addition, and project management and monitoring. The project to be completed in six years, would be rolled out in all 26 districts of the province.

The ECNEC also considered the Diamar Bhasha Dam Project (acquisition of land and resettlement) and accorded in-principle approval to the project with the instruction to the Planning Division to further rationalize the cost on the pay and allowances component of the project. Under the project to be completed at a cost of Rs 175.43 billion, 30,350 people being displaced from 4,102 households of the project area would be resettled while land spread over 35,924 acres would also be acquired. Besides, provision of health facilities, establishment of educational institutions and improvement, implementation of Cultural Heritage Management Plan, Fisheries Management Plan, Camp Management Plan, Livelihood Interventions, social safety net, business restoration plan and socio-economic research studies would also be undertaken and completed under the project.