QUETTA - Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Sunday announced a special relief and rehabilitation package of Rs2.6 billion for three districts of Balochistan affected by the recent flash floods.

Addressing flood affectees in Dera Murad Jamali town of Naseerabad district, he said the province was badly affected by the recent devastating floods and rains.

“But Pakistani people have always faced challenges with courage and bravery,” the prime minister said, adding that people in the rest of the country are standing by their Baloch brothers and they would not leave them alone in this hour of need.

The prime minister was received by Balochistan Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi and provincial ministers in Dera Murad Jamali.

Earlier, he reviewed the relief and rehabilitation work for the affected people and took an aerial view of the flooded districts of Jaffarabad, Naseerabad and Jhal Magsi.

Minister for National Regulations and Services Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and Federal Minister for Science and Technology Changez Khan Jamali accompanied the PM, who said that the government is making all possible efforts to reach out and provide relief to the flood victims.

The PM announced an amount of Rs2 billion for restoration of the damaged infrastructure and Rs600 million for the relief goods, mainly food and medicines. He also announced compensation worth Rs0.4 million each for the families of those who have lost lives in the floods.

The PM said that NDMA had demanded 10,000 tents immediately; however, the government would provide 20,000 tents for the flood affectees. He said the floods are a challenge for the nation and he appealed to the people to come forward to help their brethren.

He said that the government would try its utmost to cope with the situation through well-coordinated efforts. He said after rescue and relief operations, their top priority would be rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure that had been badly damaged by the floods.

Earlier, the prime minister attended a meeting to review the flood situation and directed that in case of transportation problem, a C-130 aircraft be used for immediate disbursement of relief goods. Others who were present at the meeting included Firdous Ashiq Awan, Changez Khan Jamali, the Balochistan governor, Chief Secretary Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad, Provincial Minister Mir Sadiq Ali Umran and the IG Police.

Agencies add: The federal government, in a move to support the under developed populace in Balochistan, Fata and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), has decided to pay tuition fee of all students of these areas undertaking Masters, MPhil and PhD in reputable universities in Pakistan.

In this regard, an amount of Rs500 million has been allocated during current financial year 2012-13. It was informed during the first meeting of Steering Committee of the scheme held under the chairmanship of Ministry of Education and Trainings Secretary Qamar Zaman Chaudhary.

Under this scheme, in addition to tuition fee, the federal government would pay other academic, incidental or mandatory fees charged by educational institutions as one-off or on a per semester basis for Masters, MPhil and PhD students belonging to Balochistan, Fata (enrolled at KPK and Fata institutions) and Gilgit-Baltistan.

The federal cabinet in its June 1 meeting had approved this Tuition Fee Payment Scheme. The vice chancellors, academic circles and parents appreciated the new initiative announced by the prime minister.

The scheme focuses on enhancing opportunities for access to higher education especially to talented but financially constrained students belonging to far-flung areas of the country who, despite possessing academic merit, are unable to finance their education.

It was also agreed that the fee disbursement would be ensured through a transparent and well defined mechanism.

The students having valid domicile/local certificate of Balochistan, Fata and Gilgit-Baltistan and enrolled on merit in the higher education institutions located in the territory of Balochistan, Fata and GB, would be considered eligible. In addition, the students belonging to Fata and enrolled at the higher education institutions of KPK province would also be considered eligible.

The scheme would be executed by Higher Education Commission (HEC). The tuition fee would be paid through HEC and lists of enrolled students would be collected from the respective universities and postgraduate colleges.

The scheme would be introduced initially for five (5) years, beginning in FY 2012-13, with the provision that those students who join the scheme in the last year, i.e. FY 2016-17, would continue to be funded until they complete their academic programme.