Senate body concerned over delay in completion of science, technology projects

ISLAMABAD (APP): Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology, in its meeting held here Wednesday, expressed concerns over delay in completion of science and technology related projects including establishment of University at the Prime Minister’s House.
The committee, held under the chairmanship of Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, was briefed by the officials of the Ministry of Science and Technology regarding the progress in establishment of the university in the Prime Minister’s House.
The officials of the ministry conveyed that it will take six years to set up a university in the Prime Minister’s House, which will have three Centers of Excellence. The feasibility study of the university was being conducted at the Prime Minister’s House with an allocated amount of Rs390 million and PC-I will be ready within a year.
The chairman of the committee expressed concern over for not doing any practical work regarding the establishment of the university and said that COVID-19 shouldn’t have made a difference at work.
Federal Minister of Science and Technology, Chaudhry Fawad Hussain conveyed the committee that the work on university slowed down due to COVID-19.
Briefing the committee about the steps taken by the ministry during the COVID-19 situation, the federal minister said that Pakistan was not manufacturing anything when the first case of COVID-19 appeared but now Pakistan is exporting COVID-19 related medical equipment which is a big achievement. The minister stated that two new industries have been set up in the country and big companies were manufacturing dialysis machines here. He also pointed out that the first ever Electric Vehicle policy in the country was a great achievement.
Chaudhry Fawad said the biggest scholarship project would be launched this year for which an amount of Rs13 billion had been allocated. The minister said that many of the institutions working under his ministry were operating without heads when he assumed the charge as minister but now heads were being appointed in all the departments to improve the performance.
The budget of Science and Technology sector has been increased up to Rs16 billion to transform this sector which was neglected in the past. The ministry developed civil-military interface for the first time in the history for creating coordination and exchanging research related expertise.
Chaudhry Fawad said the rules of all the departments working under the institutions have been made after the period of fifteen years. The chairman of the committee said that today was the last meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology while the ministry was working on slow pace.
The chairman said the projects, after allocation of budget, were supposed to be completed in time responding to which the federal minister said that the ministry cannot run such projects alone without the help of the private sector.
Speaking during the meeting, Senator Noman Wazir said this ministry has failed to implement the committee’s 227 directives while the departments of the ministry have become salary paying centers. The attitude of the bureaucracy needs to be changed, he stressed.
The officials of the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) briefed the committee that water samples collected from 23 companies were found to be substandard out of which units of five companies and selling points of 18 companies have been shut down.
The officials conveyed that the PSQCA conduct mobile sampling along with Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources.
The authority conducted water sampling in seven major cities of the country and took action however the companies change their names and resume operations again whenever action is taken against them.
The chairman of committee said that if they have not been able to check quality and standard of water, what they will do with the remaining 61 items, he questioned.
Plastic eggs and substandard ghee are being sold in the markets which are posing serious health hazards for the users, he said.
Senator Mushtaq Ahmad expressed annoyance over postponement of the inquiry into corruption cases in PSQCA and said the instructions of the committee were not being taken seriously by the authority.
Responding to this, DG PSQCA told the committee that three officers have been suspended in this regard.
Besides senators, the officials of various departments working under Ministry of Science and Technology attended the meeting.