LAHORE - Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday inaugurated free internet service (Wi-Fi hotspot) at over 200 places of five big cities of Punjab - Lahore, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Multan and Bahawalpur.

This service will also be available at 16 places in Murree. Thousands of citizens will benefit from this service and they will get convenience in making contacts.

So far 3.5 million citizens have accessed to the Punjab free Wi-Fi service and on daily basis it has the capacity to provide service to 160,000 users.

The chief minister opened the project of the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) by pressing a button at the Wi-Fi control centre at Arfa Technology Park. “The launch of free Wi-Fi service is a step forward to smart cities to bring revolutionary change in the lives of the masses and to bridge the digital divide,” the CM said at the ceremony. “Punjab government has taken revolutionary measures for the promotion of the IT and performance many of several government departments has been enhance by utilising information technology,” he added.

He also shared with the audience how the free Wi-Fi service helped save the life of a patient in General Hospital. “The husband of a patient used the free service to launch an appeal for blood for his wife and the quick service helped him to arrange blood thus life of his wife was saved,” the CM told the gathering and added that service to the humanity is the best return of all investment.

The chief minister also highlighted the IT-based Land Revenue Management Authority, under which land of 56 million of rural land owners of the Punjab have been digitalised. Shehbaz said the initiative has been lauded by the World Bank as it has eliminated the corruption and Patwari culture and now anyone could get ‘Fard’ of his property in 30 minutes without involving any middle man or agent.

“Digitalisation of FIR, automation of 712 police stations of Punjab, establishment of I T labs in high schools, distribution of 5000 tablets for monitoring the presence of teachers and students has accelerated the pace of progress in the province,” he added.

He announced that in the upcoming budget 2017-18 sufficient funds would be allocated to fulfill the commitment of construction of Information Technology University’s own campus at Badian Road on the allotted precious land within a period of one year.

Further highlighting the role of information technology in development sector, the CM said that IT labs have been set up in all government schools in Punjab and now 50,000 tablets will be also distributed that is another giant step towards utilising latest technology.

During dengue epidemic, information technology was used and this epidemic was controlled, he further said. “The future of Pakistan is connected to IT and we can move forward by utilising modern knowledge,” he remarked.

Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) Chairman Dr Umer Saif, on the occasion, paid rich tributes to the chief minister for his untiring efforts, extraordinary capabilities and speedy work.

He said that the chief minister has taken revolutionary measures to provide facilities to the people in real term. “The chief minister thinks, takes measures, and gets results and for this reason the term ‘Punjab Speed’ is used even in China as it has become a household word for speedy completion of the projects,” Dr Saif added.

Provincial Finance Minister Ayesha Ghous Pasha, who was also present there, remarked that knowledge based internet was important for economic growth. She assured the PITB that funds would be available for its projects.

Punjab, Indus Trust working on 500-bed hospital

The Punjab government and the Indus Trust will jointly establish a modern 500-bed Badian Road Hospital, CM Shehbaz announced on Wednesday, hoping that this hospital will be an example of the service of the distressed humanity.

Addressing a meeting, Shehbaz Sharif said that poor will be provided free treatment in the hospital in addition to lessening burden on big hospitals.

After Badian Road Hospital, the Indus Trust will operate hospitals in Manawan, Sabzazar, Raiwind and Kahna. The CM further said that number of beds in Bedian Road Hospital will be increased while the bed capacity in Sabzazar Hospital will also be enhanced from 60 to 100. Shehbaz vowed he will go to any limit to eliminate obsolete system and provide relief to the people because this is their right.

Provincial ministers Kh Salman Rafique, Kh Imran Nazeer, Indus Trust CEO Dr Abdul Bari, Muhammad Ahsen of the Regional Board of the Indus Hospital Trust, PITC chairman Dr Umer Saif, and other officials concerned were present on the occasion.