LAHORE - Like the previous years, Environment and Tourism remained on bottom of the Punjab government’s priorities while making allocations for the upcoming fiscal year.

The Punjab government has slashed allocation for Tourism under Annual Development Program by more than half that showed interest of people at helm of affairs in the sector possessing enormous potential.

The Punjab government has allocated Rs380 million for carrying out schemes under ADP in Tourism sector as compared to Rs800 in the outgoing fiscal year.

In ADP 2016-17, out of Rs 800 million allocated for 12 schemes, only Rs270.4 million have so far been utilized. The only achievement of Tourism Department in the outgoing fiscal year is the launching of “Sightseeing Lahore”, Pakistan’s first double-decker bus service to see historic and famous sites in the City.

Major targets/initiatives set for Tourism Department in the upcoming fiscal year are construction of resort at Darawar Fort Cholistan, up-gradation of chairlift and construction of missing facilities, fence and staff residences at Patriata, development of tourism resort, entertainment park and parking area at Kalabagh District Mianwali and development of tourist resort/entertainment park at Uchali Lake Soon Valley District Khushab.

Although development outlay for Environment sector surpasses non development expenditures for the first time in the history of the province, still it is not enough to check ever increasing environmental degradation.

Out of Rs 993.6 million allocated for Environment in the upcoming fiscal year, Rs540 million will be spend under ADP and remaining Rs 453.6 million on meeting non developmental expenditures.

In the outgoing fiscal year, Environment Department failed to fully utilise the development budget. Out of allocated Rs 185 million, department could only utilise Rs 160.8 million. On the other hand, non developmental expenditures increased from estimated Rs 245.8 million to Rs331.8 million.

In the upcoming fiscal year, major initiatives of Environment Department include Commercialization Opportunities for Fly Ash Utilization Produced, enhanced Environmental Quality Monitoring System for Air, Surface and Ground Water Resources, strengthening of Strategic Planning and Implementation Unit, establishment of Environmental Technology Centre, Pollution Control and Resource Conservation in Foundaries, Rice Husk Units and Stone Crushes and Revitalization of River Ravi.