The Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) met here on Monday, accorded approval to 13 projects submitted by various departments/ agencies of federal and provincial governments.
Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the meeting. ECNEC at the outset accorded approval for establishment of “National Endowment Scholarships for Talent” (NEST) at the cost of Rs. 10 billion to be met from the PSDPs (2014-18). The proposal was put forth by the Ministry of Planning and Development.  The Minister for Planning and Development, Ahsan Iqbal said that under the Vision 2025, the GoP is committed to making investment in youth for moving towards a knowledge-based society. In order to cater to the needs of youth, and to promote vertical social mobility, the said Endowment Fund was being created for disbursement of scholarships, covering the needy and talented students of the country to help them pursue quality education.
ECNEC after due consideration of a proposal moved by the Ministry of Water & Power approved Acquisition of Land and Resettlement Diamer Bhasha Dam Project at a total cost of Rs. 101,372 million.. The project envisages acquisition of 37,419 acres of land and resettlement of affectees for construction of Bhasha Dam Project. It may be mentioned that original PC-1 of Rs. 60 billion on the land rates fixed by the Dy Commissioner Diamer/ LAC as per Land Acquisition procedure was approved by ECNEC on 06 November 2008. Affectees did not agree to the rates and then Prime Minister appointed a ministerial committee for resolution of issues of Diamer Bhasha Project. The committee after detailed discussion recommended the land rates negotiated with the Affectees raising the land and assets cost from Rs 33.5 billion to Rs. 49.9 billion with additional settlement measures, the meeting was informed.
On another proposal submitted by the Ministry of Water and Power, the meeting approved Transmission Scheme (total cost Rs. 21,697 million) for Dispersal of Power from Neelum-Jhelum (969 MW), Karot (720MW) and Azad Pattan (650MW) Hydropower Projects. Accordingly 500 KV double circuit transmission lines to respective load centre would be constructed.
The meeting considered and approved revised proposal by Ministry of Interior regarding Machine Readable Passport/ Machine Readable Visa, Phase-II which would cost a total of Rs. 5974.321 million including Rs. 2,729.356 million FEC (foreign exchange component). The project envisages opening of 65 Regional Passport Offices within Pakistan and installation of MRP system at 83 Pakistan Missions abroad.
The meeting considered and approved Land Record Management & Information System (Phase-I) of Government of Punjab at a total cost of Rs. 12,260.480 million including FEC of Rs. 11, 366.189 million. No funding in this project from the PSDP is involved and financing will come from Govt. of Punjab’s ADP and the World Bank Loan. The project aims at providing increased access to land records at a lower transaction cost for the beneficiary, through a client-responsive service.
The proposal by Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan on Water Supply and Sewerage Scheme, Mirpur City and Other Hamlets in the Periphery of Mangla Dam (revised) was approved at a total cost of Rs. 6989.970 million.  The project aims to facilitate the affectees of Mangla Dam at various hamlets wound the water reservoir. The project would provide 36.36 million gallons of potable water @ 57.5 gallons per capita per day to the Mirpur City, Islamgarh, Hamidabad, Dudyal and Siakh Hamlets to a projected population up to 2030.
The proposal (2nd revised) from Ministry of Housing and Works regarding construction of new secretariat block at constitution Avenue, Islamabad was approved at a cost of Rs. 4845.412 million. The project aims to provide accommodation to Government Offices housed in the private/rented buildings.
Approval of ECNEC was also granted for Replacement of Old and Obsolete Signal Gear from Loldhran-Multan-Khenewal-Shahdara Bagh Main Line Section of Pakistan Railways (Revised plan) at a cost of Rs. 17,464 million including FEC of Rs. 12,068 million. ECNEC also approved Rehabilitation and Improvement of Pak Railways track on Landhi-Kotri, Hyderabad-Mirpur Khas, Kotri-Khanpur, Rohhri-Sibi, Lodhran-Pakpattan-Kasur, Khanewal-Shorkot-Sangla Hill-Wazirabad sections located in different districts of Sindh & Punjab provinces at a cost of Rs.11,544.00 million including FEC of Rs. 2,591.822 million. The meeting also granted approval in principle for procurement / Manufacture of 75 (55 Nos.4, 000 - 4,500 H.P & 20 Nos.2, 000 - 2,500 H.P) Diesel Electric Locomotives (revised proposal).
The new locomotives will have environment friendly engines and electronic fuel injector (EFI) system to provide reliable and cost-effective service. The project entails a cost of Rs. 46,810.000 including FEC of Rs 32,807.204. Two other proposals from the Ministry of Railways i.e upgradation of signaling by provision of computer based interlocking, autoblock signaling of centralised traffic control system to replace the existing old obsolete signaling system at different sections (cost Rs. 38,263.000 million) and procurement /manufacturing of 780 High Capacity Bogie Hopper Wagons and 20 Bogie Brake Vans (phase-1) at a cost of Rs. 8,863.00 million were also given in principle approval.
While according approval the Chair remarked that the Ministry of Railways should have clarity about the requirement of huge finances for these projects and should also focus on efforts for generating revenue from Railways commercial services. The Chair with the consensus of the house also formed a committee including Secretary P&D, Addl. Secretary Finance and Secretary Railways to review the fiscal space available in the PSDPs in next three to five years.
The meeting approved the Sindh Irrigated Agriculture Productivity Enhancement Project (SIAPEP) at a cost of Rs. 30,139.75 million (Local Rs.11, 435.10 million & IDA credit Rs.18, 686.64 million). The project is aimed at reduction of water demand through three types of interventions i.e. water course improvement, improved field irrigation technologies  coupled with precision land leveling and adoption of HEIS and furrow irrigation. The project would improve agricultural productivity among small and medium scale farmers.
ECNEC also discussed and approved the proposal submitted by Govt. of Sindh for Construction of Water Carrier (100 Cusec) from Spinal Drain RD 362 (LBOD) to Nabisar for Thar Coal Power Generation Units. The project entails a  cost of Rs. Rs. 12472.160 million.
The meeting considered and approved FATA Secretariat’s proposal for FATA Water Resources Development Project (ADB Assisted) at a cost of Rs. 4816.345 million which will cover areas of Bajaur, Khyber and Mohmand Agencies. The project is to provide assured supplies of water to irrigate 4,615 hectares of land through construction of small reservoirs, diversion weirs and conveyance channels.