Merged districts uplift plan

Prime Minister Imran Khan has unveiled the broad parameters of 10 years uplift plan worth Rs. 10 trillion for the speedy uplift of the newly merged seven district and four frontier regions of former Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

The plan envisages creation of 8000 thousand jobs annually for the educated youth of these districts. In all Rs. 433 billion will be spent on development projects in roads infrastructure, power generation, water conservation and civic amenities. Likewise, an allocation of Rs. billion will be made for health and education and Rs. 251 billion for agriculture, irrigation, forestry, mining and industrial development. Rs. 2 billion shall be spent on promoting youth entrepreneurship. Moreover, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa government has announced a financial package for the rehabilitation of small and medium scale enterprises in the merged districts to accelerate the revival of economic activity which remained almost at stand still for the past 18 years

Khyber Pukhtunkhwa government has already announced hundreds of vacancies for the recruitment PST and CT teachers for government schools in these districts and recruitment of SST teachers and subject specialist will be made later. For the provision of better treatment facilities every family will get medical facility of Rs.720000 on Insaf Health card.

Budgetary allocations under the Annual Development Programme and special development packages have never been a problem for the federal government in the past. It was the skewed priorities, underutilization and misappropriation of released funds that hindered the socio economic uplift of former FATA. In the past 10 years foreign donor agencies no longer trusted the bureaucracy of Governor Secretariat FATA. The World Bank Report titled: Pakistan @ 100: Shaping the futures highlights the role of elected local government institutions in the social sector development. The speedy implementation of Prime Ministers’ development plan for the merged district require early setting up of  local government offices and early holding local bodies’ polls. In addition to this expansion and capacity building of line department is inevitable to overcome the recurring problem of underutilization and lapse of development funds.

The tribal districts are rich in exotic natural resources which need to be exploited by implementing well conceived plans and strategies. Agriculture land consists of small holdings and the farmers should get agriculture inputs like quality seeds, fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides on subsidized rates. Projects of small dam construction should get priority for water conservation. The districts of Mohammad will get irrigation water for Pindyali and Prang Ghar subdivisions from Mohanand dam on the River Sawat which is likely to be launched in the next fiscal year. However, the technical feasibility of Kurram Tangi dam may not see the light of day within the next few years. Irrigation water can be provided to one subdivision each of Kurram and North Waziristan districts if this dam is built on priority basis.

Primitive methods of mining are still in practice in these districts and the lease holders have not been legally bounded to acquire and apply modern technologies to avoid colossal waste of marble and other precious minerals.

Health and education are in shamble. The District and subdivision level hospitals are deficient in equipments and trained specialist and general cadre doctors besides paramedics. Power outages of almost 20 hours are another lingering issue which makes the available health infrastructure redundant. Unlike the settled districts, the tribal districts have no network of primary healthcare in the shape of basic health units and rural health centers. The number of government schools is not proportionate with the number of school going children, particularly the girls.

A plan of industrial development was conceived in 2006 with the nomenclature of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) which could not take off because of security reasons. Now the security environment has become stable in the tribal districts and industrial development on the basis of locally available raw material and entrepreneurship need to be promoted for the ROZs plan must be revived. Hopefully, the tribal districts uplift plan will be implemented in accordance with the aspirations of the people.

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