GILGIT:Prime Minister and Chairman Gilgit-Baltistan Council, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Tuesday approved the Council’s fiscal budget for the year 2014-15 with a total outlay of Rs780.906 million.
Chairing a meeting of the 8th Session of the GB Council, the Prime Minister also accorded approval to the Giglit-Baltistan Council Protection of Pakistan (Adaptation) Bill, 2015 and Gilgit- Baltistan Council (Adaptation) of Laws Bill, 2015.
Briefing the Prime Minister, Minister-in-Charge of GB Council Ch. Muhammad Birjees Tahir, lauded Rs47.2 billion special package for the uplift of the GB and said that the people of the area also highly appreciated Rs45 million annual wheat subsidy granted by the PML-N government.
He said the PML-N government was serious in bringing the GB at par with other developed areas of the country by launching a string of development projects.
He also mentioned the efforts for legislation to control deforestation and the steps taken to encourage tourism and mountaineering in the area.
Birjees Tahir said that a 1500-men force was being raised for security of the area, besides steps for resolving the land acquisition process of the Diamer-Bhasha dam.
The Prime Minister said that the government was paying special attention on the uplift of GB through key development projects including Economic Corridor which would immensely benefit the residents of GB.
“Once it becomes functional, the trade and business will flourish,” he added.
He stressed that airport should be expanded with sustained increase in flight operations by the international companies.
The GB government should also focus on taking initiatives like setting up agro-based industries and imports of dry fruits, he observed and assured that the federal government would assist them in execution of such projects.
The Prime Minister was also briefed on the Forest Working Plan spreading over a period of 30 years. The Prime Minister had directed in the 6th December 2013 meeting of the GB Council that a well-considered long-term policy be formulated in this regard. Under this plan 2.6 million saplings would be planted during the 30-year period, he was told.
The Prime Minister was informed that the timber policy had been formulated after consultation with all the stakeholders including forest owners and community representatives which envisaged the initiatives like regeneration of forests which was a major component of the policy.
The private forests of Diamer consisted 73 per cent of the total private forest cover of the GB whereas six disposal policies were adopted by the previous governments.
The Prime Minister said that conservation of existing and regeneration of GB forests was a major priority of the government.
He emphasized that the GB government should also focus on exploring the avenues in forestation, minerals and tourism industry which would ultimately contribute to the development of the area.
He observed that the GB Council and Assembly members should also be sensitized over the issue of importance of forests.
The Prime Minister also gave his approval for forming a two- member committee to oversee disposal of timber lying with the local government since 2001.
The number of climbers was not sufficient, he noted and stressed upon promotion of mountaineering to attract foreign tourists.
The Prime Minister said that all expenses incurred by the GB Council must be done in a transparent manner and steps should be taken to eliminate corruption.
He told the minister in charge of GB to take initiatives for making the corrupt elements accountable.
Chairman National Highway Authority also briefed the Prime Minister about the 335 kms Khunjrab to Rai Kot road and KKH-II Rai Kot to Islamabad project.
He said that a patch of 23 km road which was submerged in the Attabad calamity, would be completed soon with five tunnels at the cost of Rs 27 billion.
While the concerned authorities of GB government also assured the Prime Minister that Gilgit-Naltar road would be repaired in one month.
The Prime Minister was also pleased to note that the GB government’s steps for wild life conservation including the conservation of Markhor and ibex which was being done successfully.
The meeting was attended by Caretaker Chief Minister GB Sher Jahan Mir and MNAs Capt. (Retd) Muhammad Safdar, Khalid Hussain Magsi, Dr. Darshan, Syed Iftikhar ul Hassan, Ishpanyar M. Bhandara, Dr. Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, Amjad Hussain and Ghulam Hussain Saleem while Ms. Marvi Memon and Political secretary to the PM Dr. Asif Kirmani were also present.