(By Dr Shahid Qureshi ): –
British Kashmiris appreciated the comments made by Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal, chairman NDMA (National Disaster Management Authority) that: ‘All pending projects will be revitalized with backlog to be cleared within two years, financial transparency will be ensured, and Supreme Court orders will be implemented in letter and Spirit’.
A large number of Kashmiris live in the United Kingdom and there is not a family which was not affected by the earthquake. The 2005 Kashmir earthquake occurred at 08:50:39 Pakistan Standard Time on 8 October in Pakistan-administered Azad Kashmir. It was centered near the city of Muzaffarabad, and also affected Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir.
The General Afzal is reported to have a no-nonsense approach and a man who delivers with SMART Plans (SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed). The local Kashmiri community appreciated the renewed effort to support the victims of Earthquake of 2005.
The chairman NDMA along with ERRA officials and media team visited New Balakot. The visit aimed to identify impediments in the project and speed up the process of reconstruction of Balakot to alleviate the sufferings of earthquake affectees of Balakot. Officials of KP and PERRA gave a detailed briefing to Chairman on Balakot in light of Supreme Courts orders. The new Balakot City project had faced prolonged delay due to non-availability of encumbrance free land and financial paucity.
Chief Justice of Honorable Supreme Court had taken Suo Moto against the delay in reconstruction and ordered formation of an Epic Committee comprising of Ministry of Finance and Planning Division of Pakistan, officials of ERRA and KPK under the Chairmanship of Chief Secretary KP.
The Committee and petitioners formally agreed to an MOU duly approved by the CJ SC according to which the project revised cost was set at 16.00 Billion and ERRA was tasked to make the PC-I and get it approved from ECNIC, while Planning Commission would make Rs. one billion available to ERRA for year 2018-19. It also stated that for subsequent fiscal years Planning Division and Ministry of Finance will ensure smooth flow of funding for reconstruction of New Balakot City Project, however, promised Rs I Billion could not be released during the current financial year
Talking to the media Lt Gen Afzal said the aim of visit was to identify impediments in reconstruction of New Balakot City Project and implement the Honorable Supreme Court’s orders in letter and spirit while keeping stringent financial transparency. The visit aims to revisit the Balakot project, clear the backlog of pending projects within a time span of two years and ensure viable options including the option of public private partnership for reconstruction of projects in New Balakot City, said Afzal. He also informed the media that work at new Balakot City Project will recommence within next few months.