Illogical delay in the execution of mini projects

It has been surprising for the public and many of the expected beneficiaries of the small projects that were planned by the members of Villages Councils of  Chitral districts. The schemes had been advertised last year- in November, December and were processed under codal formalities and the successful Contractors were issued Work  Order as per rule which extended into late December 2016 and owing to extreme cold in the upper Chitral valleys the Contractors concerned hesitated to commence work as the days had shortened and temperature fell to minus degree celcious so no project was properly initiated. It was expected by the potential beneficiaries to get the schemes ready for launching in March 2017 but this is the last week of March and no contractor has reached the site assigned to him according to his success in the Tender Process.

During winter the winner contractors belonging to lower Chitral area had sold their schemes to other contractors belonging to upper Chitral valleys especially to those who belonged to the target areas and in lieu of that got some amount of money viz. the actual Fund was further reduced in the hands of the new sub contractor and these sub –contractors have so far not reached the sites to meet the  would be beneficiaries to locate the site effected, as most of these schemes are either damaged road, irrigation Channels or protection walls on the banks of the rivers and these rivers shall flow in the present volume till the end of April , and after that the rivers will rise and  any construction work on the banks of the rivers to construct the damaged sections of the water channels will become  difficult. These works need to be started right now, without delay.

The same is the case with the schemes projected by CDLD for rehabilitation of the damaged infrastructure in various parts of Chitral that still stand waiting for execution.  The criteria of CDLD  is appreciable  as all its fund is spent under the VO and all the fund goes to the project directly without any deduction  as commission. It is a well tuned mechanism. These  small schemes of public interest should be given urgent status and work must begin immediately  in the early months of spring and delay is not in the interest of the communities concerned  or the  project site itself as another rise of the river will further damage the affected sections and redouble the cost that will be beyond the mandate of the contractor concerned. I, therefore, request the Deputy Commissioner Chitral to take notice of the delay by the contractors concerned and take immediate action to make them start their projects all over the district. The contractor community has acquired  skills to mislead the  supervisory staff and this must not be allowed to create hurdles in the early execution of  these schemes. .. Prof Rahmat Karim Baig, Chitral 21 may 2017

Petrol Cars to Vanish in Eight Years

In eight years time no more petrol or diesel cars will be sold anywhere in the world. People will stop driving fossil fuelled cars altogether, and will switch to low-cost vehicles powered by electricity with an expectant lifespan of one million miles instead. That’s according to an article this week in The Daily Telegraph following the release of a report by a prominent US university.

Needless to say, the apocalyptic forecast by US economist, Tony Seba, has gone viral with green lobbyists while creating a shock wave among the petroleum industry, as well as everyone involved in the manufacture, supply or parts and maintenance of cars. That’s not to mention car lovers such as ourselves, as we ponder the prospect of channelling our enthusiasm away from the traditional combustion engine and into battery power outputs and charging rates.

Moreover, only diehards will hang on to the old principle of actually owning a car, says Seba. Instead, these new electric vehicles will be hired on demand. And it gets worse. Cities will ban human drivers, and the ban will spread to the suburbs and then beyond. The value of secondhand cars will plummet and there will, says Seba, as reported in The Daily Telegraph, “be a mass stranding of existing vehicles.”

Of course, if no more new fossil-fuelled cars are sold, it will become more and more difficult to find a petrol station. Spares to fix existing cars will become obsolete, people will resort to having to pay to dispose of their old vehicles, and the entire industry involved in repairing and maintaining cars will disappear. Seba is quoted as saying that dealers will disappear by 2024.

No, it’s not April 1, though it sure seems like it. Professor Seba is deadly serious and says the shift will be driven by technology, not environmental issues. The fact that electric vehicles have so few moving parts means maintenance is virtually zero, and being four times more efficient means people will be able to buy cars which will perform better, be cheaper to buy and costs buttons to run. He’s reported as saying: “Internal combustion engine vehicles will enter a vicious cycle of increasing costs. The tipping point will come in the next 2-3 years as battery ranges surpass 200 miles and electric car prices in the US drop to $30,000.”

Seba says car manufacturers will be faced with a choice between making electric vehicles in highly competitive, low cost market or to reinvent themselves as car hire companies. He predicts that the next generation of cars will be ‘computers on wheels’ with the likes of Apple and Google having a distinct advantage over the traditional car makers. He says the change will be ‘swift and brutal’, drawing on what happened to film cameras and the likes of Kodak once digital technology took hold as a parallel. As the The Daily Telegraph speculates, Silicon Valley is where the auto action is, not Detroit, Wolfsburg or Toyota City.

It’s a truly shocking prophecy – and the fact that this new report says it will happen in less than a decade is even more worrying. While professor Seba’s forecast is still open to discussion and there’s question marks about his timing, there’s no denying the shift away from traditional cars as we know them. India has plans to phase out petrol and diesel cars by 2032 and China, which is currently dogged by pollution issues in its major cities, is likely to follow suit.

Whatever the future holds, us petrolheads are unlikely to give up our cars – or our hobby – without a fight. The prospect of the classics we love and cherish one day becoming useless museum exhibits just won’t do. Where emotion is involved, there will always be a lot of feet dragging – and there’s bound to be concessions. We’re certainly not going anywhere, that’s for sure…

Published in on 19 May 2017

Beware! Change ahead. Chinese in town

Uplift of agriculture, tourism sectors in Chitral discussed

 CHITRAL: A three-member Chinese delegation on Thursday stressed the need for the development of agriculture and tourism sectors saying it will promise ‘food, fuel and income security’ and thus, giving the people a sustainable livelihood.

The delegates are currently in Chitral at the invitation of the district government to explore the possibility of interaction between Gansu province of China and Chitral district.

Led by Prof Long Ruijun of Launzhu University, the delegates told a seminar here that Gansu province had become an agricultural hub producing more than 40 per cent of China’s fruits, vegetables and trout fish.

Prof Long said there was striking resemblance between the geographical features and climates of Chitral and Gansu and that both the regions were semi-arid zones and therefore, the initiative in one area could be successfully replicated in the other.

Chinese delegation in district at local govt’s invitation

He highlighted opportunities of bilateral support and cooperation in agricultural sector, including food processing and value addition, seed industry, small farming machinery, plastic film covered field, green house and family based biogas unit.

The visitor said 30 years ago, Gansu was deficient in agricultural produce and therefore, became food insecure but the consistent efforts of farmers along modern scientific lines turned it into an agricultural hub providing the goods for which it earlier depended on other provinces.

“We have travelled in many valleys and found that the agricultural experiences of Gansu can be easily yet successfully replicated there to become self-sufficient in food supply,” he said.

Prof Long said the trout farming was flourishing in his province with its daily production running into hundreds of tons, while the fresh water of Chitral was ideal for trout farming, which could provide employment to thousands of local residents.

He said there was a broad prospect of cooperation between the two areas in the wake of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project for which the two areas must start preparations by chalking out strategy, while it was pleasant to note that the district government was well aware of the situation.

District nazim Maghfirat Shah said his government was committed to preparing the people of Chitral for the post-CPEC scenario and therefore, it was making all possible efforts for the purpose.

“We will exploit all available resources for which linkage is being established and strengthened between Chitral and Gansu,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2017

Urdu News اردو خبریں

Used urine rubber tubes openly sold in markets

Dear Sir,
Adulterated and fake food stuff are already the standard things available in the market but now a more lethal health hazard has been added to the merchandise of Chitral bazars.
Used rubber urine tubes of hospitals are now being sold as rubber bands in Booni bazar which people specially children buy for sling shots etc. The picture shows such rubber bands being sold alongside foodstuff thus imperiling the health of the population as viruses like Hepatitis and AIDs can easily spread amongst unaware users of such rubbers .. Khurshid Alam, Booni 17 May 2017

Utility Super Store opens in Chitral

Chitral .. A Super store by Utility Stores Corporation, first of it’s kind in the district was opened in Chitral City at Ataliq Bazar bye pass road.

MNA Chitral Shahzada Iftikharudin addressed those gathered at the opening event. He said twenty more stores would be opened across Chitral. He thanked Wg Cdr (r) Fardad Ali Shah for providing an ideal premise for a Super market which was no less than the utility store supermarkets in Islamabad and Peshawar. He also recounted the achievements of the Federal government in  serving Chitral in various fields.

Wg Cdr Fardad Ali Shah proprietor of the premise said it is time Chitral also should taste the facilities of an average Pakistani city at least. He said he had given the building at a much lower rent than the market price because it was a public benefit venture and he always sacrificed for the welfare of the people. He mentioned the huge transport Adda across the road and the deep water well in the heart of the commercial area which he had provided for the relief of the unprivileged and downtrodden people, at which the audience applauded lavishly. He thanked the MNA for his efforts in setting up the Utility Super Store.

Wg Cdr Fardad also paid compliments to Imran Khan for talking about a betterment in the system of governance instead of talking of building roads and bridges. Roads, nullas, bridges and buildings are only bye products of governance and if the governance improves such things will automatically improve with it, he said.

The Regional Manager USC Shafiq thanked the MNA for helping and effectively supporting him in demanding and establishing various Utility stores in Chitral .. CN report, 16 May 2017.

Chitral rich in websites, social media presence

Chitral — The otherwise castaway district of Chitral is rich in its presence on the social media, particularly websites from Chitral are multiplying. There are about a dozen websites few in English but mostly in Urdu which are updated regularly and register even petty news happenings in Chitral.

Besides websites Chitralis are also very active on Facebook, having many pages related to Chitral besides numerous personal pages. Participation of youth in social media discussions speaks of the intrinsic intelligence and interest in intellectual pursuits, of Chitralis.

Chitralis have been known for their interest in studying and striving for even petty white collar jobs even if they paid less, compared to physical labour though more rewarding. The advent of social media has given a chance to Chitralis to show their talent. With proper guidance and sponsorship Chitrali youth can well excel in the information technology field .. CN report, 15 May 2017

Lowari tunnel to be operational by June: NHA official

ISLAMABAD: The Lowari Tunnel project will become operational by June, an official of the National Highway Authority (NHA) said on Wednesday.

About unusual delay in the completion of the project, he said, work on Lowari Tunnel project, which started in September 2005, was supposed to be completed by 2008 and as per the PC-1 it was to cost Rs9 billion.

However, its completion time was extended when the then government decided to convert it into a road tunnel in 2009, rather than the rail tunnel as per the original plan. The history shows that the Lowari Tunnel project idea was discussed in the National Assembly of Pakistan by the member from Chitral, Jaafar Ali Shah in 1970s, the official said.

He said work on the tunnel began for the first time in 1975, but it was stopped in 1977 after change of the government on the pretext of the lack of funds and other development priorities.

The work did not resume until September 2005, he said, adding that after its conversion, work on the road tunnel continued slowly due to multiple reasons, including the lack of funds, issues over funds releases between NHA and Korean construction firm SAMBU and prolonged winter season. The present government approved additional funds for the Lowari Tunnel to ensure its completion as early as possible, he added.

After becoming fully operational, the tunnel will reduce the current 14-hour drive from Chitral to Peshawar to only seven hours, the official said. Moreover, people of Chitral have to travel through Afghanistan and then enter back into Pakistan during the winter season when Lowari Top is closed for traffic. Chitral remains virtually inaccessible during winters and the tunnel will facilitate all-weather transportation, he added.

Published in ‘The News’  04 May 2017

‘Including’ the Mullah should be the cornerstone of NAP

.. Editorial

What the existing National Action Plan envisages is too vague or at least is not convincing to many. The only thing we know is that it is supposed to improve internal security in Pakistan, but how? that remains a question. Whereas many superficial solutions to the existing internal problems have been included in the National Action Plan, but a crucial, rather a game changing solution to the internal crisis of Pakistan which is essentially related to the religious aspect (the mother of all aspects) can be incorporated as a corner stone and number one priority in the plan and things, which will change the lives of our future generations at least, if we have borne with it so far.

The first priority for the nation in its plan should be to INCLUDE the imam of the mosque in reforming the society. The imam of the mosque who leads prayers five times a day and his different manifestations e.g the sermon giver, the tableeghi preacher, the madrasa teacher etc all have an impact on the mindset of the society yet to be realized by the policy formulators of the country.

It is said that character of a person is molded from the cradle at the hands of parents, but who are the parents influenced by?- the mullah. It is also said that teachers in schools should teach the students how to conduct themselves in life, but where do the teachers get their own character building education from? -the mullah.

The power of the mullah (religious preacher) is so immense that Islam was spread in the subcontinent because of their sermons. Similarly, in current times the mullah has shown his prowess by converting blooming young men into suicide bombers. Look at it how we may, we cannot ignore the power of religious preaching in shaping behaviour of the people and thus the nation.

By now that we have realised that an Islamic traditional society cannot ignore the mullah whether it is praying five times behind him, whether it is nikah, janaza, khatm e Quran, reciting Ayat before the president’s speech or whatever, why not then ‘include’ the mullah. (if you can’t beat em, join em in)

The way to ‘include’ the mullah in the National Action Plan is to first register all mosques. Employ the mullah with a handsome salary and then restrict him to focus upon the positive and character building aspects of religion instead of going off at tangents.

The imam of the mosque who delivers the Friday sermon should be given a specific topic each week e.g telling lies, hypocrisy, bribery, injustice, adulteration of foodstuff, deciet, trustworthiness, kindness to the weak and standing up to the powerful, etc. Unfortunately as a muslim one gets old yearning to hear even once a sermon about character building aspect in Jumma prayers or tableeghi ijtima. All we hear is shortcuts to wash away our sins and go to heaven in a jiffy, regardless of how we violate huqooq ul Ibaad in our every day lives. Pakistan is notorious for being hub of adulterated and fabricated merchandise, crookery in dealings and un-trustworthiness, no wonder.

Who is responsible for this? Some will say the politicians, but from which society do the politicians rise? and who molds the society?

If we have not been able to make the best use of the pulpit (rather allowed it to be misused), we can now make amends, launch an emergency plan to use the pulpit to reform society in the true spirit of Islam.
Easier said than done though, because those who are not the well wishers of Islam and those not sincere to Islam, will never let this happen. — CN Editorial, 07 May 2017.