LAHORE - About 40 per cent of the Punjab’s total annual development programme (ADP) for the outgoing fiscal year has gone to Lahore alone, leaving the remaining 60 per cent to meet the requirements of the other 36 districts of the province, most of them backward needing more funds to be at par with the developed administrative units.

The total ADP for the year 2013-14 was Rs 290 billion. However, Rs 50 billion were given to Daanish schools, Tevta and other independent bodies and Rs 40 billion that were expected from the federal government or other resources could not be added to the development budget, thus total core ADP was Rs 200 billion. About Rs 70 billion were paid to the capital.

As the utilisation of the ADP in the province remained low and to avoid lapse of funds, a P&D official said Rs 15 billion may be transferred to the LDA accounts, thus raising the total sum for Lahore to Rs 85 billion while Rs 130 billion are being spent on different development programmes in the rest of the province.

The data collected from different official documents shows that the provincial government paid Rs 9.29 billion for Wasa drains rehabilitation (Bird Wood Drain, Central Drain and Cantonment Drain from Multan Road to Babu Sabu, Rs 1.61 billion for Lahore Ring Road Project, construction of interchange at Khaira Distributary, Rs 8.5 billion for repair and decoration of all underpasses on Jail Road along the Lahore Canal and others, Rs 5.71 billion for the construction of an elevated expressway from Gulberg to Ring Road Motorway, Rs 1.40 billion for extension, repair and decoration of road along the Lahore Canal from The Mall Underpass to Doctors’ Hospital, Rs 1.91 billion on installation of water supply lines, Rs 8.41 billion on maintenance of Shahi Bagh, Rs 2 billion on construction of Shahpur Kanjran to Sharqpur Sharif Road, Rs 0.5 billion on the construction of the River Ravi front, Southern Loop Ring Road 2.86 billion, Rs 2.98 billion on construction of Airport Link Road under Lahore Ring Road project, Rs 850 million for repair of the Ministers’ Block, Rs30 million for sustainable development of walled city of Lahore project, Rs 1.24 billion on burn centre at Jinnah Hospital and Rs 790 million on Multan Road Phase II Scheme Morre to Chauburji.

Moreover, millions of rupees were spent on different projects like Minar-e-Pakistan Circular Garden Rs 330 million, Ravi Bridge for MBS Rs 770 million, Rs 730 million for lining of Khaira Distributary, Rs 780 m for provision of emergency services at high-risk buildings, Rs 420 million for installation of water filtration plants in the city, Rs 578 million for construction of double road from Barki Road to Ashiana Housing Scheme, Rs 200 million for construction of commercial complex at Lahore Railway Station, Rs 200 million for completion of Ring Road, Northern Loop, Rs 783 million for capacity building for managing emergencies in high rise buildings, Rs 335 million for establishment of 60-bed tehsil level hospital at Lidher, Bedian Road, Rs 1.24 million for Jinnah Burn & Reconstructive Surgery Centre, Rs 424 million for installation of 100 water filtration plants and many other development schemes.

An opposition MPA said such a large share from the ADP for the 10 percent population of the Punjab could intensify feelings of deprivation among those who lacked basic necessities of life. He said though no one could deny importance of projects like metro bus system or mass transit train service in big cities, when people are deprived of basic facilities like education, health and clean drinking water, the major ADP allocation for the capital is not fair.

Criticising the government’s figure of Rs 30 billion for Lahore metro bus (though the real amount was much more) in short time of 11 months, he said, a tiny portion of it was enough to provide basic facilities to the poor. He said the proposed mass transit train project worth $1.6 billion would further intensify the feelings of those living in remote areas of the province. This huge amount could be used to restore cash-strapped public utility, Pakistan Railways, a symbol of federation that could facilitate all and sundry from across the country and lessen the severity of criticism on ‘Lahore Government’.

A P&D official refused to share the relevant data. He, however, confirmed that a major chunk of the ADP was consumed in the capital city. Talking about reasons, he said, many people prefer to reside here but with no single room of their own. If people want to move to Lahore as it happened in the past, nobody could curb this trend, he asserted. The solution, he suggested, could be a compulsory shifting of some of the headquarters of different public sector bodies to other cities. “It is a financial hub as well as a political theater, so it would not be wise to compare its development with the rest of the province. The bubble of housing was raised at the cost of running of factories, green fields, vegetable plots and gardens. This self-destruction will multiply depravity among the people. Extension of the metropolis was actually out of government control. The days to dictate people where to work and where to reside have gone,” he said.

Opposition leader in Punjab Assembly Mian Mehmood-ur-Rashid said public was angry over what the capital gets at the cost of other small and big cities. He said clean drinking water, education and health should have been priorities instead of metro bus and mass transit train projects. “The planned new city near the River Ravi worth over $10 billion would be another blunder of this regime. A political agenda is vital to stop converting fertile lands into housing colonies,” he held, adding the other cities needed to have more economic, political and cultural role across the province. The concept of greater LDA was another wrong move of the land mafia, he gave critique.

Punjab Labour Minister Raja Ashfaq Sarwar could not be contacted for comments on the issue despite repeated attempts. However, Parliamentary Secretary for Information and Culture Rana Muhammad Arshad defended the consumption of the major ADP share in Lahore. He said the capital city with around 100 million persons deserved housed civil administration secretariat, IG police offices, headquarters of all government departments, big universities and medical colleges and an international airport. The greater LDA, he said, would develop backward areas of Sheikhupura, Kasur and Nankana Sahib. He said the PML N government fixed funds for South Punjab more than previous regimes. He said establishment of modern varsities, colleges and hospitals at RY Khan, Multan and DG Khan and Daanish schools were for the poor people of remote areas.