LAHORE     -    Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar on Friday reviewed the steps being taken by the government to provide facilities to farmers and develop the agriculture sector on modern lines.

The meeting chaired by the chief minister at his office reviewed the measures to save crops from locust attack and decided to start an internship programme for agriculture graduates. The chief minister said that 130 agriculture graduates will be trained and Rs200 million will be spent on the internship programme. “This programme will be continued on an annual basis. A new floriculture programme will be started with an amount of Rs400 million,” he said.

Buzdar said that development of the agriculture sector will strengthen the economy. He said he would protect farmers’ rights. “The government will give proper reward to sugarcane growers in the next season as was done for wheat and sugarcane growers,” he said. He directed the officials to monitor Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan and Bahawalnagar and spray insecticides in these districts till complete elimination of swarms.

He told the officials to do regular surveillance of the three districts and develop a strategy in collaboration with the federal government to avoid future locust attacks.

The chief minister said that an institutional mechanism should be developed to deal with the effects of climate change on crops, adding that steps should be taken to improve capacity of agriculture research institutions.

The meeting was told that six camps have been set up in Rahim Yar Khan and Bahawalpur along with 16 surveillance teams for anti-locust operations. Provincial ministers Raja Basharat and Nauman Langrial, Punjab chief secretary, planning and development chairman, provincial secretaries and chairman of the taskforce on fertilisers attended the meeting.

DELAY IN RELEASE OF NUMBER PLATES

Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has said that delay in release of vehicles’ number plates will not be tolerated.

Presiding over a meeting at his office, he said that officials should perform instead of wasting time in departmental activities. Immediate steps should be taken and early release of number plates should be ensured, he said. He said the Excise and Taxation Department should work with speed keeping in view people’s difficulties.  The chief minister said that he would pay surprise visits to excise offices. He said the DVRS system should be activated and the best enforcement and collection mechanism of property tax should be devised to facilitate people.  The meeting also reviewed implementation of e-toll tax system. Excise Minister Hafiz Mumtaz Ahmed and excise secretary attended the meeting.