LAHORE - Punjab is to introduce Child Nutrition and Stunting Reduction Programme to improve the mother and child health.

During the first meeting of the provincial steering committee yesterday, Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif approved the program that will be launched in 11 districts of South Punjab in the first instance and later, its scope will be expanded to other districts.

Addressing the meeting, the CM said that the program is very vital for the mother and child health and an effective mechanism has been evolved for the implementation of the programme. He directed all concerned departments to coordinate and discharge their responsibilities in an effective manner to make the program a success. “Immediate steps will be taken to resolve the issue of stunting and conventional thinking and attitudes will have to be changed,” Shehbaz said.

The member health and planning gave a briefing on the programme. Provincial minister Malik Nadeem Kamran, Begum Zakia Shahnawaz, Khwaja Salman Rafique, Syed Haroon Sultan Bokhari, Khwaja Imran Nazeer, chairman Planning and Development, and secretaries of the concerning departments were also present on the occasion.

Farmers to get Kissan cards

Separately, presiding over a meetin, Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif reviewed in detail progress on steps taken for the welfare of farmers under Kissan Package. The meeting decided to register all farmers across Punjab and the chief minister approved the design of the farmer card.

Addressing the meeting, Shehbaz claimed that farmers are getting relief in the real sense due to billions-rupee Kissan package and it has resulted in boosting agriculture production, besides cultivation area has also increased. “[The] PML-N government under the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has protected the rights of cultivators by restoring subsidy on fertilizers,” he added. He further said a decision has been taken to register all farmers while the process will be carried out through biometric confirmation.

According to the plan, teams of agriculture department will make door-to-door visits for the registration of farmers while subsidy will be transferred directly to the farmers through special cards. Special centers have been set up for this purpose.

“Every necessary step is being taken for the welfare of farmers and a crackdown against spurious and fake agriculture drugs has been launched and zero tolerance policy adopted in this regard,” the CM told the meeting. He vowed that evil business of manufacturing of spurious pesticides will be uprooted at every cost and those involved in this business will be jailed.

“To increase livestock export, we have to meet international standards,” Shehbaz said while directing the authorities to restore livestock activities in Cholistan.

Provincial minister Dr Ayesha Ghaus Pasha, advisers Dr Umer Saif and Dr Ijaz Nabi, chief secretary, deputy governor State Bank, senior member Board of Revenue, acting presidents of National Bank, Zarai Tarqiati Bank, Tameer Bank, and senior officers of concerned departments were also present on the occasion.

Use all development funds

After reviewing progress on Rs550billion annual development programme for the financial year 2016-17, CM Shehbaz directed the authorities to utilise all development funds transparently and within the fixed time. “People can get benefits of development projects only when they are completed in time and the funds properly utilised in a transparent manner for the purpose they are allocated for,” Shehbaz said, adding that billions of rupees are being spent on development projects in the southern Punjab.

He further said that the schemes to improve living standard of the people have been included in the annual development program, and education, health, agriculture, water and other sectors have been given priority by the government. “Billions of rupees have been spent on mega projects in the southern Punjab and all the departments are playing their role in the transparent spending of funds.”

He directed the authorities to complete all projects in the region at the fast track.

Shehbaz said that a visible change in the South Punjab has been witnessed due to these initiatives of the Punjab government. He also warned that delay in the projects for the provision of basic facilities to the people will not be tolerated and effective monitoring of the development projects will continue.

The Planning and Development chairman gave a detailed briefing on the development projects. Provincial ministers Manshaullah Butt, Malik Kamran Nadeem, and Dr Ayesha Ghous Pasha, MNA Hamza Shehbaz, Senator Masood Majid and officials concerned were also present on the occasion.