MIRPUR (AJK) - A team of Mid-Career Management Officers from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) Wednesday reached AJK on a study trip to assess the pace of reconstruction and rehabilitation process in October 8, 2005 earthquake-devastated zone including the state’s metropolis - Muzaffarabad - besides other development activities being carried out for uplift of AJK.

The visiting KPK officers from Peshawar called on Secretary, State Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (SERRA) Sardar Muhammad Farooq Tabassum to be acquainted of the development activities in quake-hit areas.

Briefing the officers on reconstruction programme in AJK, Farooq told them that the survivors of Oct 8 catastrophe are being provided facilities better than before under ERRA’s vision of Build Back Better in education, health, governance, water and sanitation, communication and environment sectors.

“To turn this tragedy into opportunity ERRA teams made strenuous efforts day and night. The standard of life of the people improved” he said. He, however, explained that to maintain international standard facilities in education, health and other sectors, ERRA is facing the challenge of additional budget. We are taking it up at different forums, he added.

On this occasion Director Planning Abid Ghani Mir informed the delegation that that ERRA is facing difficulties in completing the ongoing projects due to paucity of funds.

Tenders could not be issued for construction of more than 600 educational institutions, he noted and added that work is at different stages on 600 other projects for which the federal government is being contacted for funds.

He said there is no slackness on part of the departments. “We would have handed over these projects to concerned authorities after completion had funds be made available,” he remarked.

He said projects constructed under reconstruction programme have been completed under building codes. Mir said Kashmiris living abroad in different countries rendered great services for construction of educational institutions and hospitals.

Still thousands of children are forced to study in open as they have no schools and colleges. Some of them are in worst condition as they have no shelter over them.