BAHAWALPUR - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Friday announced Rs 2.37 billion package for the provision of clean drinking water, construction of roads and livestock development in Cholistan.

The CM announced this package during his visit to Cholistan. He also announced a new land allotment scheme for landless Cholistanis.

Speaking on this occasion, he said situation of Cholistan was under control, adding there was no report of any casualty nor had drought conditions been seen in this area while migration from Cholistan during the wheat-harvesting season was normal and usual.

Shahbaz Sharif said he had sent several teams from Lahore to Cholistan which had visited the whole area to monitor the situation and assess the immediate needs of the people of Cholistan. He said under the announced package, 1,100 tobas (water channels) would be completely desilted by spending Rs 600 million while an 80-kilometer-long road costing Rs 240 million from Kadwala and the other costing Rs 300 million from Neelwala would be constructed.

The CM said that under the package, Rs 180 million had been released for the extension of a 30-kilometer-long pipeline project from the Cholistan area of Rasool Sar to Bijnot and from Derawar to Kandiwala toba costing Rs 150 million. He added Rs 180 million had been released for 30-km-long pipeline from Dhori to Bhanowala and Rs 8 million for the pipeline fromMoj Garh to Chapanwala pipeline.

The CM released Rs 70 million for maintaining the existing roads, Rs 205 million for the provision of veterinary medicines and vaccination to livestock for the next three months.

The CM announced a new scheme for allotment of lands to the Cholistanis who did not own lands, adding the process of allotting lands would be completed in a transparent manner.

He directed the provincial secretaries concerned to visit Cholistan twice a week, besides asking the chief secretary to visit the area after every 10 days.

The CM Punjab talked to the people present in the gathering and asked him about the Cholistan situation on which they told him that no death had been reported so far due to any contagious disease or drought. They, however, said a sufficient water supply to the area was needed.

The CM Punjab said he himself would visit Cholistan after 10 days to check progress on the projects which he had announced regarding livestock of the area. He warned strict action would be taken against those found negligent.

Addressing the people, he said 80-km-long clean water pipeline from Kudwala to Banna would be laid in Cholistan while the existing 360-km pipeline is already providing drinking water to the Cholistanis.

Earlier, Bahawalpur Division Commissioner Capt (r) Asadullah Khan briefed the CM Punjab on the Cholistan situation.

Provincial Minister Malik Muhammad Iqbal Channar, Adviser on health Malik Tanveer Aslam , MPA Khalid Mahmood Jajja, Chief Secretary Naveed Akram Cheema and secretaries of different departments were present on the occasion.