LAHORE - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has written a letter to the Local Government department about commencement of the Intermediate Cities Improvement Investment Program (PICIIP), activities and mobilization of the consultant teams for the project.

ADB has engaged three teams of consultants - both international and national - to undertake project preparations, the letter said, adding the bank would field a mobilization mission to Pakistan in the first week of August 2015.

The teams will undertake activities like climate risk and vulnerability assessment for intermediate cities, integrated city development strategy for Sialkot and Sahiwal and pre-feasibility studies for both of the cities and other priorities intermediate cities.

The Punjab government will appoint three focal persons; provide office with all facilities; establish protocol for the teams to schedule meetings; undertake consultations; and access relevant data, the letter adds.

PICIIP, funded by Asian Development Bank, would improve the efficiency and financial sustainability of cities and effectiveness of urban services including water supply, waste water, solid waste management and transport infrastructure.

According to sources, ADB would fund to the tune of $500 million multi-tranche facility initially. The program will be executed under the LG&CD Department supervision.

More than 50 percent country’s population is housed in Punjab, including 29 million urban populations, out of which nearly 7 million live in 12 intermediate cities, so it was indispensible to improve service deliveries in the urban areas because population growth has badly stressed the urban environment.

Official sources told TheNation the support to the government of Punjab and intermediate cities for urban planning is including preparation of city strategic development plans. PICIIP further includes municipal financial management support including enhancement of the financial information management system, implementation of GIS based property tax system and improvement of own source revenue collection.

Moreover, the program will also provide support for rehabilitation, replacement and extension of water supply and sanitation system in six cities. The improvement of Solid Waste Management as well as for the Sialkot water and sanitation company in operations, management and implementation of sub-projects will be done, besides betterment in urban transport and traffic management system.

The sources added a study has already been conducted that stressed improvement in 12 intermediate cities. A report prepared in 2011 was the final output of the Project Preparatory Technical Assistance (PPTA) under the Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded Punjab Cities Improvement Investment Program (PCIIP). The PPTA was aimed to design the investment program following the ADB guidelines to prepare a program comprising physical and non-physical investments for financing under ADB's multi-tranche financing facility.

The report further mentions the ADB‘s PCIIP initiative is consistent with Pakistan‘s Medium-Term Development Framework (MTDF 2005-2010) to support priority investments in key sectors to deliver on vision 2030 to improve intermediate cities in Punjab.

Official documents further said the PC-II of the project preparatory technical assistance for PIOIP at a cost of Rs93.220 million was approved by the PDWP in its meeting last year. The consultative mission of the bank has already visited Pakistan in November, 2014 to discuss the project activities. Furthermore, the Aide Memoire was also discussed and agreed upon between the Punjab government and ADB.

An officer told this scribe it was decided that LG&CD Department might establish its own PMU for the implementation of proposed activities instead of working through the Urban Unit, and accordingly the Economic Affairs Division has been intimated by the P&D Department. The summary for CM’s approval of PMU under LG&CD Department was initiated and routed through the Chairman P&D Board, he added.