LAHORE: With increase of Rs 40 million, Punjab Government allocated Rs 400 million for information and culture in fiscal year 2016-17.

No foreign aid has been used in the fiscal budget 2016-17 for culture and information.

According to the budget documents Rs 400 million has been earmarked for the fiscal year 2016-17 including development preservation of cultural heritage, construction of auditoriums, and up-gradations for arts councils in Punjab. The documents shed light that this year’s budget will also focus on searching and introducing new talent in the field of arts, culture and to project them to national level. 

New initiatives in the budget, Rs 32.204m allocated for Chief Minster’s Talent Hunt Programmes (PUCAR), Rs 25.360m allocated for Research and publication of Punjab dictionary/history books and launch of cultural events and awards for restoration and transformation of cultural celebrations at Punjab Institute of Language Arts and Culture (PICAL). The provincial government also proposed Rs 16m programme also included research and promotion of arts, crafts and culture of Punjab though documentaries by international level consultant.

Budget FY 2016-17 also allocated Rs 30.672m for the up-gradation and strengthening of “Punjab Rung” FM Radio Station, Lahore. While, Rs 15m allocated for improvement and up-gradation of Open Air Theatre at Bagh-e-Jinnah, Lahore.

Lahore remains blued eyed for the PML-N led government, having 36 districts of the Punjab, only Bahawalpur is the district, which gets some amount from Rs 400m budget for culture. Rs 20m is proposed for PC-II hiring of services of a consultant firm to ensure  more efficient, timely and better execution and monitoring of the development projects including designing and planning of auditoriums in Arts Council Bahawalpur and Multan.  

While budget documents reveal that ongoing schemes executing included, Rs 23.574m allocated for re-construction of Murree Arts Council, Rs 49m and Rs 42m proposed for construction of auditorium for Sargodha Arts Council and Gujrawala Arts Council respectively. For development of Lahore museum building and conservation facilities Rs 40m has been allocated. For Lahore Arts Council Mall complex and cultural complex Ferozpur Road improvement Rs 66m has been allocated.    

Archeology budget : With no increase in the budget allocation in comparison to last year, Punjab government has allocated Rs 400m for the archaeology department. The longstanding demand of the civil society to protect the historical monuments that come in the route of Orange Line Metro Train Project, the government has proposed Rs47.479m conservation of historical monuments near Orange Line Metro Track Project.

New initiatives proposed by the government included Rs 15.607m for the improvement and up-gradation of Taxila Museum, Rs 6.118m for preservation and restoration of Naqqar Khana Complex at Shalimar Garden, Rs 15m proposed in budget for up gradation of central archeological laboratory Lahore. Rs 30m for development of garden, walkways, access road and tourist information center at Hiran Minar, Sheikhupura and Rs 30m allocated for restoration for missing walkways at Noor Jahan’s Tomb.

Rs 100m have been proposed for Auqaf and Religious affairs in fiscal 2016-17.   Government has come up with three new initiatives, according to budget documents, Rs 40m set aside for the establishment of Quran Museum and library in Punjab institute of Quranic and Seerat studies for researchers, scholars and academics. While, Rs 5m allocated for documentaries, surveys and preservation of existing historical-cum-religious monuments. To meet religious harmony, tolerance and brotherhood Rs 38m block allocation specially for Auqaf Department.      

Human rights and minorities: Rs 800m proposed for Human rights and minorities affairs in the budget. According to details, government proposed Rs 25m for educational scholarship for minority students.   While Rs 705m proposed for block allocation for development schemes of minorities.