Saturday Sep 05 2020

PM Imran unveils Rs1,100bn development plan for Karachi

KARACHI: Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Karachi on Saturday to unveil a massive Rs1,100bn, three-year development plan for the city, a week after torrential rains inundated roads and left many areas without power for days.

Addressing a news conference at the Governor House, the prime minister said that the "historic" Rs1,100bn Karachi development package will cater to the city's diverse problems ranging from water supply, to transport and solid waste management.

PM Imran said that he would have arrived in Karachi earlier but it was important to first decide on a structure to fix the city's chronic issues.

"We have been put to another test," he said, referring to the problems posed by the recent rains right after the government fought to contain the coronavirus pandemic and reported a decline in infections.

PM Imran praised the government for handling the pandemic well, saying that very few countries in the world had handled it like Pakistan had.

Delving deeper into the government's coronavirus response, PM Imran said that following the same formula, his government had decided to constitute the Provincial Coordination and Implementation Committee (PCIC), which will report to the chief minister Sindh.

"It [PCIC] will include all stakeholders," said the prime minister, adding that the army will play a big role. "In all the countries of the world the army is at the forefront of such situations as it is the most organised institution and the most capable."

Chalking out the course of the plan, the premier said that the first issue the government will tackle is that of water supply, with the Greater Karachi Water Supply Scheme, better known as K-IV. He expressed hope that Karachi's water supply issue will be fully resolved in the next three years.

He said that another major problem was that of encroachments and for which the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has already started work to clear them.

PM Imran said that the rehabilitation of those displaced will be taken care of by the Sindh government

He also spoke of the city's sewerage and solid waste disposal problems and said that the transformation plan will effectively address both issues.

Stressed on reforming the transport system in Karachi, he said that the Karachi Circular Railway, the Bus Rapid Transit and other lines are included in the plan.

"The government will discuss concerns surrounding the transport and roads today," he said.

Speaking about the devastation caused by the recent floods in the province, PM Imran said that he had been informed about the extent of damage caused in interior Sindh in particular.

The premier said that the government was making a rehabilitation plan for people who had been affected by the floods and that he had spoken to Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan about it as well.

He said that the government will also provide help to the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Chitral and Swat who have suffered losses due to the floods.

Coming back to Karachi's development package, the premier said that the long-term plan will span three years with the first phase of the plan to take a year while the rest will be implemented in two years.

'Ease of doing business foremost priority'

Afterwards, a delegation of businessmen called on the prime minister at the Governor House.

"The business community plays a key role in the development of the country," said the premier, adding: "It is the duty of the government to provide them every facility possible."

He said that creating ease of doing business is the government's foremost priority.

"The promotion of construction and its associated sectors will create abundant employment opportunities," PM Imran noted.

He said that the government aims to bring automation in the business and investment systems.

The delegation presented proposals to the prime minister for export promotion and tax reforms. It also congratulated the prime minister on a successful coronavirus strategy.

Federal ministers, Governor Sindh, finance advisor, and Governor SBP participated in the meeting.

The business delegation included Asif Ikram, Azam Farooq, Bashir Ali Muhammad, Faisal Maqbool, and Tariq Shafi.

PM's other engagements

Among the premier's agenda was a meeting of the Karachi Committee, which was held with the prime minister in the chair and was attended by federal ministers Asad Umar, Ali Zaidi, Senator Shibli Faraz, Amin-ul-Haq, governor and chief minister Sindh, among others.

He also met a delegation of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P).

Additionally, PM Imran met Pir Syed Sadruddin of the Grand Democratic Alliance.

He is scheduled to pay a visit to the Pakistan Stock Exchange before departing from the city.

Plan's contents

A day earlier, documents seen by Geo News showed a Rs800bn plan for Karachi's transformation.

Under the plan, Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) — worth Rs300 billion — has been included as one of the projects. China will provide Rs250 billion whereas the Government of Sindh will add Rs50 billion to the project.

Six mass transit system projects worth Rs447.43 billion are expected to be announced under the KTP. Among the development projects are eight sewerage projects, four solid waste management projects, two water drainage projects, and various road construction and repair projects costing Rs162.60 billion, Rs14.86 billion, Rs4.70 billion, and Rs62.30 billion, respectively.

The News reported that Rs723.25 billion more are needed for the completion of the transformation plan while Rs32 billion have already been allocated to the development projects in the current year’s budget with Rs47.18 billion having been spent so far.