People of merged districts seek transparent utilisation of development funds

PESHAWAR: The KP government has released an amount of Rs.4.4 billion for reconstruction of about 700 government structures damaged during militancy and military operations in merged tribal districts.

Out of these funds, Rs.1.05 billion has been allocated for North Waziristan, Rs.1 billion for South Waziristan, Rs.1.01 for Kurram, Rs.1billion for Orakzai, Rs.440 million for Khyber and Rs.490 million for Khyber tribal district.

According to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), the Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction (RRR) Unit has already pinpointed the damaged facilities and structures for the release of funds. The project includes 239 schools, 71 health centres and over 350 schemes of clean drinking water and irrigation.

Different rehabilitation projects by the federal government and welfare organisations are continuing in tribal districts, and now the provincial government has also joined in to complete different projects. The tribal people have appreciated the KP government for releasing funds for rehabilitation projects in merged districts. They have also demanded completion of all these projects in a transparent manner.

Shoaib Khan, a schoolteacher from North Waziristan, says the people of tribal districts have offered many sacrifices for the country and time has arrived to restore their lives on the old pattern. He said while talking to TNN that the KP government has allocated these funds for very basic needs, which deserve appreciation.

“Displaced people returned to their areas even before completion of reconstruction work to support the government. We are hopeful that the government will spend this money transparently, particularly on health and education,” Shoaib Khan said.

Zahid Hussain Turi, a tribal elder from Parachinar, Kurram, says development projects are important and the government should devise strategy to block corruption in carrying out these projects.

“The package is handsome and the three sectors selected for its expenditure are also appropriate. Such packages were also announced in the past. These funds should be used on merit under a system of check and balance. The committees headed by the MPAs or Nazims will ensure transparency. The method of implementation of the package will determine its fate,” Zahid Hussain told TNN.

The RRR Unit says these funds will be spent through the respective district administrations.

Adil Orakzai, a social activist from Orakzai district, says funds should be given to the local government representatives after local bodies polls to ensure transparency in spending.

“Funds were also allocated for tribal districts earlier which were mostly spent on education, health and clean drinking water. These funds should not be handed over to a single person like parliamentarian or deputy commissioner. The government has already announced that local bodies polls will be held in merged districts. Local government representatives will be in a better position to spend these funds according to merit,” Adil Orakzai said.

Restoration of damaged girls’ schools has also been included in the plan. Sadaf Orakzai from Orakzai district says women must also get their share in rehabilitation and restoration funds.

“More funds should be allocated for education. Many girls cannot get their education due to lack of schools in their area. Healthcare is the second important sector. Many tribal women die before or after reaching hospital in case of delivery. Deaths at hospital happen due to lack of lady doctors and LHVs. Some tribal women had to fetch water from mountains on their heads, which is a troublesome exercise. The government must focus on providing clean drinking water facility to all areas,” she said.

Out of total fund, only Rs.440 million has been allocated for Khyber tribal district. Rafiq Afridi, President of Khyber Welfare Youth Association, says the share of Khyber district is negligible. He says Khyber should have been provided funds equal to other tribal districts.

“The amount of Rs.440 million is very low for Khyber. The government should keep in mind that not even a single educational institution or health centre remained fully intact after militancy and military operations in Khyber. The area needs more funds apart from the Rs.440 million already allocated.

Raghib Shah from Bara says the government should spend these funds on construction of roads, hospitals, schools, providing jobs to tribal youth and building tube wells. He says funds should be spent transparently.

Another youth from merged districts says: “Rs.4.5 billion is not such a big amount, but if it is spent transparently, it can bring some improvement in the condition of tribal districts. The government should make a monitoring committee to make sure that the areas affected most from militancy and military operations get more funds. Committees should also be formed on local level to ensure transparency in spending of the funds.”

A tribesman from Upper Kurram says the Rs.4.5 billion funds allocated for tribal districts will resolve many problems of the people of merged districts.

“Some people have doubts about these funds as in the past the governments made such announcements, but nothing happened practically. Education, health and water supply schemes deserve government’s attention,” he said.

Arshidullah Khan says Rs4.5 billion has been announced for education, health and water supply schemes on which welfare organisations have already carried out a lot of work. The said amount should be spent on reconstruction of damaged houses and construction of new roads. The local elders should be taken on board to spend the money on welfare of the people.