Islamabad - A senator from Balochistan on Tuesday complained about the slow pace of work on development projects in the province, demanding to complete the schemes as fast as being executed in the Punjab province.

"In Multan, Lahore and Sialkot, projects are being executed swiftly while in Balochistan, the progress is very slow and the projects with a three-year completion deadline usually take 15 years," said Senator Usman Kakar during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Reform. The committee met with Senator Tahir Hussain Mashhadi in the chair.

Secretary Planning Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui briefed the committee about 213 slow moving projects and said that Rs53.4 billion were re-appropriated from slow moving projects in favour of fast-moving schemes.

He said that in Balochistan, besides China, the federal government was also funding development projects. Senator Kakar, however, rejected the claim and said that no development work was going on in Balochistan. "Projects in Balochistan should be completed as fast as in the Punjab," he said. The committee decided to send notices to all departments concerned over the slow execution of development projects in Balochistan.

The committee was informed that a total of 44 dams had been completed under package 1 and 2 of a project of construction of 100 dams in Balochistan, while work on 20 dams was going on. The small dam project had been divided into five packages, under which 100 dams were being constructed in the province. "Under the first package, 22 dams had been completed and under the second package, 22 out of 26 dams had been finalized while under the third package, work on 20 dams is in progress," the planning secretary said.

About the infrastructure projects, planning ministry officials said that a project for the construction of N-40 road from Quetta to Taftan was in the pipeline and will soon get approval from the required forum.

Siddique said that the completion of development projects in Balochistan was on the priority of the federal government.

He, however, said that there were certain issues including the security issue in the execution of the projects besides the availability of contractors etc.

Answering a question about the acute shortage of water in Gwadar city, the planning secretary said that keeping in view the importance of the port city, the prime minister had issued special directives for making arrangements for the provision of the required water to the city on a priority basis. A Chinese company had recently established a water treatment plant and from January 1, it had started providing 200,000 gallons per day to the consumers, he said.

Answering a question about Mangi Dam in Quetta, he informed the meeting that a certain amount of explosive material was required for digging out the land, however, security agencies were not allowing to move the explosive material to the site.

Regarding a plan to stop land erosion by the sea in the coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan, the committee was informed that a working paper has been finalized and will be approved from the Central Development Working Party in February.

The committee chairman inquired from the planning ministry officials whether the Manshera airport belongs to Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar? The planning secretary replied that the airport was not being funded from allocations for MNAs. "Every project is being funded on merit," the planning secretary said adding that Rs1.6 billion has been approved for the land acquisition of the Mansehra airport.

The meeting was also attended by senators Mohsin Leghari and Karim Ahmed Khawaja.