Development funds to be used for relief

RAWALPIDI:

Funds allocated for mega-projects in Rawalpindi will now be used for emergency relief and rehabilitation of flood-affected people in South Punjab.

Sources said that the administration of Punjab has decided not only to immediately halt all development initiatives under the purview of all provincial departments including local government and development organizations, but also to halt the development of the proposed initiatives.

Currently, priority is given to rebuilding damaged infrastructure and rehabilitating flood victims. Progress on ongoing development projects for water supply, sewage, road infrastructure, electricity, gas, hospitals and educational institutions has also been halted in districts that are up to present sheltered from flooding. In addition, major projects that had been approved and were about to begin construction will not move forward.

Sources said that in Rawalpindi, no progress will be made on Ring Road, Leh Express, Kachehri Chowk, Defensmce Chowk, Liaquat Bagh and Murir Chowk projects.

An official from the Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation said on condition of anonymity that the top priority of the Punjab government will now be the rehabilitation of flood victims and the reconstruction of the region completely devastated by the floods. Therefore, all local bodies in Punjab, development authorities, WASA and provincial departments have been officially advised that each provincial department should contribute one day’s salary to the flood relief fund so that flood affected people receive full support.

A substantial part of the development funds will now be allocated to them and to the reconstruction of damaged infrastructure in their areas.

Floods affect tourism

Due to torrential rains and floods, tourist destinations such as Murree and Galiyat do not receive many tourists, which is why businessmen, hotel owners and transporters are facing serious financial problems.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, a hotel owner, Haji Saeed Shabri in Galiyat, said many visitors had postponed their travel plans due to flooding. For this reason, many places in Murree, Galiyat and other tourist spots have a desert look.

Most people visit the sights of Islamabad and Rawalpindi and return home in the evening. Hotels in Murree and Galiyat are usually packed with visitors at this time of year, as people in hot areas visit cool places to escape the heat. However, due to flooding, tourism in these areas is currently non-existent.

Khalid Yameen, a carrier that transports tourists from Rawalpindi to Islamabad, said transport companies that provide tourist services could suffer irreparable losses if the situation persists for an extended period.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 28e2022.

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