ISLAMABAD: The federal government is finalizing a long-term plan for massive development activities in Balochistan, primarily aimed at addressing the grievances of the people of the province.

Official sources told Dawn here on Thursday that the plan would focus on building infrastructure, improving education and health facilities and making institutional arrangements to alleviate widespread poverty in the province.

According to a latest estimate, one-third of Pakistan’s population lives below the poverty line. The incidence is much higher in Balochistan (88 per cent), followed by the NWFP (51 per cent), Sindh (31 per cent) and Punjab (25 per cent).

The plan, involving billions of rupees of new funding, would improve agriculture, water and irrigation, livestock, industry and develop new water resources. It will ensure community participation so that the people of Balochistan are brought into the national mainstream.

The plan, the sources said, would be multi sectoral, its underlying principle being pro-poor. The main goal would be to alleviate poverty with appropriate care of environment and provision of a system of sustainable livelihood.

The activities targeting poverty would include enhancement of agricultural productivity by effective and efficient management of land and water, introduction of high-value crops, value addition to agricultural products, reduction in post-harvest losses, improvement in the output of livestock through disease control, feed supplementation and fodder production, promotion of micro- and small-scale village enterprises, especially for women, promotion of commercially viable private investment and search for and strengthening of opportunities for self-employment.

Under the plan, priority would be accorded to roads by attracting investment in physical and technological infrastructure through allocation of funds for the purpose. The lowering of the water table is a matter of great concern that can have a variety of negative effects on all spheres of life in Balochistan.

For this purpose, the government will provide new technical and financial resources to counter the alarming development. Measures will be taken for recharging groundwater levels.

Source: The Dawn