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Event Title: Senate Standing committee on planning, development and Special Initiative

Event Date: 2021-10-15

The Senate Standing committee on planning, development and Special Initiative under the chairmanship of Senator Saleem Mandviwala summoned the Ministry of Climate Change, representatives of the four provinces,  Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir to probe further the flagship project (Ten Billion Tree Tsunami) of the sitting government. The Chairman committee asserted that the stakeholders for the 10B trees program must be called to brief the committee on the on-ground progress. The Chairman committee also sought a comprehensive briefing on all the specific and major PSDP projects in the next meeting.

The officials from the Ministry of Planning and development revealed that 75% of the PSDP goes to the small projects to which the chairman Saleem Mandviwala and members of the committee showed discontent and urged the provincial governments to take up the small projects on its own as it is the primacy of the provinces after the 18th Amendment. The committee also decided to call the provincial PSDPs’ in the next meeting to get a clearer picture of these projects. The Chairman committee also summoned the representatives of the Balochistan government, GDA and Gawadar Port Authority to know about the exact status of the ongoing PSDP projects in Gawadar.

Regarding the matter of Non-issuance of license by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to National Logistic Cell (NLC) for operating the Border Terminals, Mandviwala assured the officials that he will take up the matter with the relevant authority and will pen a letter to FBR in this regard. The COO NLC apprised the committee that currently, they were operating the border terminals via executive order. To know about the condition of roads in the country and other related projects, the chairman committee also expressed his intent to call officials of National High Authority in the next meeting.

The Committee met here at the Parliament Lodges under the chairmanship of Senator Saleem Mandviwala. At the outset of the meeting, Fateha was offered for the high elevation of Late Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan.

Progress report on the recommendations made by the committee in its meeting held on 6th August 2021 was considered. It was informed that a sub-committee is to be formed when the Special Report by the Committee on the futility of PSDP recommendations by the senate is laid in the House.

Consideration on the Bill titled “The China Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority (Amendment) bill 2021, moved by Senator Mian Raza Rabbani and the Bill titled “The China Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority (Amendment) bill 2021, moved by Senator Sherry Rehman was deferred due to non-availability of the movers in Islamabad.

The committee received a comprehensive briefing from the officials of the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives on the current status of all the undergoing PSDP projects along with their completion plan. The Planning Ministry officials in its briefing informed the committee that 1155 PSDP projects are amounting to Rs. 9422 Billion in which 710 projects are ongoing while 445 are new. The estimated cost of the ongoing and new projects is Rs.7278 Billion and Rs. 2144 Billion respectively. To know the exact breakup of these projects the chairman committee asked for the ageing of the allocated budget and overall projects. While briefing the committee regarding the sectorial breakup of PSDP 2021-2022, the officials apprised that 62% of the budget is allocated for the infrastructure sector and 20% for the Social sector.

Briefing the committee on the completion plan of most important projects, it was said that the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami programme had a physical progress of 31% (expected completion 30.6.2023), Dasu hydropower project stage-1 (2160MW) had a progress of 15% (expected completion Feb 2025), Mangla Power station Refurbishment (310MW) had a physical progress of 48% (expected completion June 2024), Tarbela fifth extension (1410MW) had a physical progress of 2% (expected completion June 2025), Tarbela fourth extension had a  physical progress of 99% (expected completion Dec 2022), Diamer Basha Dam Project (Dam part) had a physical progress of 4% (expected completion June 2029), Diamer Basha Dam Project (land acquisition and re-settlement) had a physical progress of 72% and Mohmand Multipurpose Dam project had a physical progress of 9% (expected completion Dec 2025).

The officials while further divulging about the projects said that 10% of work had been completed on 50% of projects and 30% of projects are new and of the remaining 70% projects, 100% work had been completed on 50% of the projects.

While briefing the committee on the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami programme, the chairman committee asked for proof regarding the massive plantation drive if it is done through PSDP. The committee members intended to visit those places which were barren before the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami programme. Senator Danesh Kumar revealed that in a province that is 45% of the total area of Pakistan, only 0.006% saplings had been planted in Balochistan.

The Chairman committee called for an effective monitoring and evaluation system of the said flagship project to which the officials responded positively. After deliberation on the Billion Tree Tsunami programme, the Chair summoned the Environment ministry, four provinces, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir in the next meeting. The committee was also informed that Rs. 46 billion had been allocated for SDG Projects (Sustainable Development Goals). The Chairman committee also sought a detailed briefing from the ministry on the 8 major PSDP projects in the next meeting.

Senator Kauda Babar raised the issue of power supply and water in Gawadar and Makran Division. On the PSDP projects in Gawadar, Mandviwala also summoned the officials of the Balochistan government and Gawadar Port Authority in the next meeting.

A comprehensive briefing was given by COO National Logistic Cell (NLC) on their role, functions and performance. While briefing on the composition of the National Logistic Board (NLB), senator Saadia Abbasi recommended that MPs should also be given representation in NLB. Her recommendation was seconded by the Chairman Committee Saleem Mandviwala. The committee was informed that a railway track from Sibi-Harnai had been laid down but is still not operational to which Mandviwala decided to pen a letter to the Railway minister, senator Azam Khan Swati for early operationalizing the said track.

Senator Saadia Abbasi, Dost Muhammad Khan, Danesh Kumar, Palwasha Muhammad Zai Khan, Ijaz Ahmad Choudary, Kauda Babar, Hidayat Ullah attended the meeting. Officials from the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, National Logistic Cell and other concerned officials also participated in the meeting.