Massive uplift activities planned in Malakand
PESHAWAR, Feb 10: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is preparing plans for improving roads and infrastructure facilities in the militancy-affected parts of Malakand division under the $72 million financial assistance provided by Saudi Arabia.
According to a provincial government official, the Saudi government has released the funds in line with its commitment to sponsor improvement of roads, education facilities and irrigation network in the militancy-hit parts of Malakand and Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
“The federal government recently received the funds after which the provincial government began putting in place plans to carry out development projects in the roads, education, and irrigation sectors,” said the official.
The $72 million Saudi funds make part of the total $856 million pledges and commitments that were made by Pakistan’s international development partners to rebuild social sector facilities and restore livelihood for the people affected by terrorism in Malakand division.
While the majority of development partners fulfilled their commitments and carried out development projects valuing Rs52 billion in Malakand division and other parts of the province during the last couple of years, the Saudi government and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development were yet to fulfill their commitments.
Saudi Arabia has extended the assistance to Pakistan in the shape of loan. However, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government will receive it as a grant, according to the official.
“Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata would share the assistance on 50:50 basis as grant,” said the official.
The official said the provincial government’s agencies overseeing Malakand division’s redevelopment were preparing plans to improve roads, rebuild school buildings wherever needed, and restore irrigation network in the militancy-hit parts.“The programme would till 2018 during which some major road projects would be carried out,” said another official.
A substantial portion of the amount, said the official, was likely to go to reconstruct the Mingora-Kalam road that was left in ruins by the flashfloods of July 2010. The road project, said the official, would take some extra time to complete as it entailed realignment of the road that ran along River Swat.
Similarly, the provincial government, according to sources, is likely to grant the contract for rebuilding of school buildings to the army’s 45 Engineering Division that has already been involved in Malakand division’s reconstruction process.
“The contract details between the provincial authorities and the army’s engineering division are being finalised and approval would shortly be granted by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government” said the official.
The engineering division, added the official, was being engaged again because it saved money and time as for the government’s recent experience.
The Engineering division, according to an official document, carried out development projects worth Rs3.2 billion investment under the United Arab Emirate-Pakistan Assistance Programme in roads, water supply, health and education sectors in the militancy affected parts of Malakand division.
According to official sources, the federal government would release the 50 per cent agreed share of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from the $72 million Saudi funds once project plans are ready and granted approval from the concerned development forums and provincial authorities.
Officials said the financial assistance would help carry out development activities in upper Swat and Dir regions, where there was still a great need to restore the people’s livelihoods and rebuild basic infrastructure.
“Though development activities have been carried out at a large scale in the affected regions, there was still much needed to be done to restore, at least, what Massive uplift activities planned in Malakand was there before the scourge of militancy and flash floods of 2010 wreaked havoc with people’s lives,” said an official of the planning and development department.
In 2009, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had carried out a ‘Damage and Needs Assessment’ on the basis of which the provincial government had asked for over Rs85 billion in assistance for the rehabilitation of the affected communities and the redevelopment of destroyed infrastructure in Malakand division.
A PDMA official said Rs5.8 billion had been distributed as ‘housing compensation’ to the people in Malakand division under a project financed by the United States Agency for International Development.
Similarly, a USAID-funded economic growth project, involving a total investment of over Rs1 billion, has also been completed so as another development initiative of Rs2.2 billion completed under the United Nations Development Programme’s funding in the affected parts.