Living Indus to Housing for Flood Affectees by World Bank ; Infocus Weekly Briefs

by M. Wasim

2 October 2022

Living Indus Initiatives

Federal Ministery of Climate Change has unveiled this week a plan to revive Indus natural routes “Living Indus Initiatives” to  “find ways to revive natural routes of Indus river”. The Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman has recalled that the cabinet already approved the country`s largest Indus initiative, which is aimed at protecting the cradle of civilisations under serious threat from environmental degradation and anthropogenic activities.

Emphasizing to “ensure development in harmony with nature, not against the nature,”  Sherry Rehman briefed the salient features of the project  while speaking at a media briefing. She called Indus the “Mother of the nation” and said the mighty river feeds the entire agriculture and humanity living along it from the north to the south. The ministry is preparing a report on Indus to devise a well-thought-out strategy to initiate its “conservation and restoration as a living river”. The minister said that 25 initial interventions and priority areas would be focused, which include developing nature-based resilience agriculture, salinity control, delta protection, Indus cleanup from industrial ef fluent, green infrastructure and ground recharge and groundwater governance.

Housing for Flood Affectees by World Bank

The World Bank would finance a Rs. 110 billion project of the Sindh government to construct houses for the flood affected people in the province. After thorough discussions and deliberations in an online meeing between World Bank country director and  Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, the WB country director reportedly has agreed to launch the project for which a public company would be established under the control of the Sindh chief secretary. The company with the support of the public and private sector would start the construction of the houses for which a survey is already in progress.

World Bank to help Housing for Flood Affected Flood

The public company would be set up for outsourcing the contract of construction of around three million houses partially or completely demolished due to floods in different districts of the province and begin its functions in the next two to three months. A survey of demolished houses iss under way by the deputy commissioners of the respective districts and the exercise was expected to be concluded within a month.The construction of houses for the affected people would begin once the water was cleared, the Chief Minister said, adding that the winter season was approaching fast and the provincial government has to make housing arrangements for the affected people.

“Stop Real Estate on Agricultural Land”

Farmers and civil society has demonstrated this week in Lahore to call on the government to declare a climate emergency and stop of expanding real estate trends that are consuming tens of thousands of hectares of agricultural land. The demonstrators are of the view if these real estate practices which are supported by unanciers associated with political parties and governmental agencies go unchecked, they will not only drive millions of farmers out of business but also result in a severe food shortage. Their charter of demands mainly includes putting an end to encroachment along the River Ravi, where farmers are being pushed off their land as part of a state project to build a housing society for the rich; and holding factories accountable for polluting the air, soil, and water in Sharif pura, Chungi Amer Sidhu, and dozens of other working-class neighbourhoods in Lahore and elsewhere.

The Devious Plot to Legalise Irregular Housing Schemes in Lahore

The protesters has urged government to terminate RUDA-type projects and should also stop demolishing agricultural land as the residents of Chungi Amar Sidhu were suffering from diseases after using toxic water and air, besides the government should take measures to provide safe drinking water to the people of the city. They demanded from the government to declare a climate emergency to deal with the impending crisis, launch a flood relief package for the flood victims, and carry out a comprehensive project of reconstruction and rehabilitation.

Mega Solar Projects in Public Sector

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has give green signal to the construction of solar power projects of 2,000 megawatts in the public sector to generate low-cost and environment-friendly electricity and directed officials to ensure citizens get uninterrupted gas during the winter. Presiding over a meeting this week  Mr Sharif reviewed progress on the installation of 10,000MW solar projects across the country that the government aims to build in its attempt to cut the import bill of costly diesel and furnace oil. Under the project, agricultural tube wells would be converted to solar power on an urgent basis, he said.

Significance of Solar Energy in Pakistan

The prime minister, who was briefed in detail on solar projects, told the meeting the government would give a sovereign guarantee to the companies investing in such ventures. He added that the solar power projects would also help overcome the perennial issues of line losses, power theft, and circular debt. The meeting was informed that an investors` conference on solarisation was held on Sept 14, which was attended by local and international firms, including from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, China and Qatar.

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