PM Imran promises more funds for welfare schemes

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said it was his government’s mission to construct homes for the people in the low-income group and make hefty allocations to health, education, justice, and housing sectors.

Addressing a ceremony held in connection with the distribution of cheques of interest-free loan among the applicants, who desired to construct their houses under the government’s low-cost housing scheme, Imran said it was the duty of the government to support vulnerable segments of society.

Under the scheme, Rs5 billion interest-free loans will be disbursed through the Akhuwat Microfinance among the applicants, having their own plots. The loan will be utilized to construct new houses, additional rooms, renovation and up-gradation with a loan of up to Rs1 million.

Imran said more funding would be available for housing, education, and provision of justice to the poor people when the income of government increased. He appreciated the Akhuwat Microfinance for providing interest-free loans to low-income people for the construction of houses.

“It is the responsibility of the government to provide facilities to its people. That was the model of the State of Madina, where the concept of Zakat was introduced to support downtrodden people of society,” the prime minister said.

“Unfortunately, such kind of system was not introduced in Pakistan, where the elites were enjoying all things, while there was nothing for the poor and common man,” he added.

“Helping poor people and realizing their pains is an investment for the hereafter.”

Due to a lack of foreclosure laws, the prime minister said, the rate of constructing houses on the mortgage was very low in Pakistan. “In Pakistan, it accounted for less than 0.25% as compared to 10% in India, 30% in Malaysia and 80% in European countries and the United Kingdom,” he said.

He hoped that after a court decision, the process would be accelerated. He said it was the top-most priority of the government to create resources and job opportunities for the people, particularly the poor segments of the society.

“The construction of 5 million housing units will provide job opportunities to millions of people besides boosting 40 other industries, which are directly linked with the housing sector,” the prime minister told the audience.

“The government is launching three mega projects in the country, including the one launched in Islamabad,” he said.

“The amount received from the Blue Area multi-billion rupees commercial project will be spent on providing housing units and flats to people of slums.”

The prime minister directed the housing ministry to expedite the pace of work on the low-cost housing scheme. He said 2019 was the year of stabilization, while 2020 would be the year of providing employments and an increase in growth rate.

Housing and Works Minister Tariq Bashir Cheema Dr. Amjad Saqib of the Akhuwat Microfinance also spoke on the occasion. They said the Prime Minister’s Housing Scheme would not only provide a roof over the head of people but also provide create job opportunities.

Water pollution issue

Prime Minister Imran directed the Adviser on Climate Change to finalize a comprehensive roadmap in consultation with the provinces in the next 15 days so that steps could be taken to address the issue of water pollution.

Chairing a meeting on the water pollution issue, the prime minister directed the relevant authorities to ensure the presence and functioning of water treatment plants in the newly established industrial estates and private housing societies as per building laws.

“Water pollution is a serious matter. Considering the adverse effects of Water pollution on public health and economy, the issue needs immediate attention,” he told the meeting, which took several important decisions to prevent water pollution caused by sewerage and garbage in rivers and canals.

The meeting was informed that 93% of the country’s water is used for agricultural purposes, 5% by the industrial sector and 2% for domestic purposes. At the ground level, Chenab, Kabul and the Indus rivers are the worst affected by water pollution.

Sixty million population is affected by groundwater pollution and about 90% of underground water in Karachi is polluted, the meeting was informed. At the municipal level, only 10% of water is partially treated in different cities while only 1% of water is cleaned at the industrial level.

Fertilizers used in the agricultural sector are also causing water pollution. According to the World Bank’s estimates, 40% of diseases are caused by water pollution, and that pollution is also affecting aquatic life.

The meeting was also informed that according to a survey, the personal efforts of Prime Minister Imran has created public awareness about the harmful effects of environmental pollution in 75% of the population.

During the meeting, officials from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab informed the participants about various schemes for the prevention of the spread of sewerage and other pollutants in the two provinces.

Punjab planned 36 projects to contain pollution from sewerage and garbage. The officials said that these projects also include cooperation from the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, and other international organizations.

The K-P chief secretary gave a detailed briefing to the prime minister on various schemes to prevent water pollution. He said that they had undertaken projects in major cities, including Peshawar, Abbottabad, Mardan, and Hattar industrial zone to contain water pollution in Swat and Kabul rivers.

The meeting was attended by Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Zaidi, Adviser on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam, Special Assistant on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan, and senior officers of the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

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