LAHORE  -     Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht has said that 41 percent of the allocation of the next ADP will be spent on provision of basic facilities to people of underdeveloped districts in Punjab.

Reviewing the draft special strategy for development of southern Punjab here on Saturday, he said the projects aimed at elimination of chemical substances in water causing cancer and hepatitis, would be given priority, besides ensuring safe drinking water supply through taps instead of bottled water.

Hashim said that programme relating to agricultural sector would be incorporated in schools’ textbooks and made part of technical training courses to facilitate people of southern Punjab. Business courses would be introduced for the people deprived of education due to lack of resources so as to make them self-reliant and enable them to play an effective role in the economic development of the province, he added. He said that local people would be preferred for teaching staff that would help ensure teachers’ presence in educational institutions. He mentioned that agro based industry would be promoted to end unemployment, asserting that it had been suggested to allocate a total of Rs 22 billion for new agricultural programme in the upcoming provincial budget. Instead of procurement, he said, watchers and provision of storage facilities for enhanced wheat production were under consideration.

Unfortunately, those 42 per cent people, who contribute 70 to 80 per cent in economic growth of Punjab by producing 95 per cent of mangoes, 93 per cent sunflower, 89 per cent cotton, 85 per cent pomegranate and 80 per cent dates, were living below the poverty line. Insufficient health and educational facilities, he said, had not only rendered jobless the people of southern Punjab but also compelled them to migrate to urban centers, thus increasing substantially population of big cities.

Keeping all these realities in view, he said, the incumbent government was paying great attention to those districts, which had for the last many years been ignored with regard to projects of education, social protection, health, agriculture and business facilities. Planning was also being made for construction of link roads and industrial zones in southern Punjab.

The minister directed the Urban Planning Unit to formulate projects in coordination with respective departments. He also reviewed the progress on administrative structure’s preparation for effective implementation of the special strategy.