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Shehr-e-Khamoshan project delayed

By Our Correspondent
July 19, 2019

LAHORE: Shehr-e-Khamoshan graveyard project under which four graveyards were constructed during the term of the last government, is suffering from delays on several counts. The one that needs immediate attention of Shehr-e-Khamoshan Authority is non-payment of salaries to low paid workers such as grave-diggers and gardeners.

The amount due is only Rs1.3 million. The employees have not been paid since their contract expired in April 2019 in Sargodha and last month in Lahore. The other city where the employees of the model graveyard have not been paid is Faisalabad.

The Shehr-e-Khamoshan Authority is awaiting constitution of a new board which is long overdue — for over a year now.

The Board is first approved by the secretary but there is a new secretary now who has taken charge only a week ago. Saif Anjum, secretary Local Government, left last week. Then it requires the minister’s approval and that was Aleem Khan at one time who gave names for the Board when he was Minister for Local Government and Community Development but then he too left. Finally, the Board needs approval of the chief minister who the Authority is yet to send a summary.

The reason why it is taking ages to send a summary to the CM, is the absence of a director general in the department. Two weeks back there was a directive from the Civil Secretariat which directed the Local Government to constitute a Board to resolve issues of the Punjab Shehr-e-Khamoshan Authority but there is confusion in the department, though there is awareness of the increasing need to address the pending issues, primarily of payment of dues to the workers. A source privy to developments in the department expressed the hope that the issue would be resolved in two weeks.

The Punjab Shehr-e-Khamoshan Authority (PSKA) was the brainchild of Salman Sufi who not only gave this concept of a graveyard where all the last rites for the departed soul could be taken care of, he got allocated land for such graveyards in all the 36 districts of Punjab during the previous government. The project was designed to take care of the bereaved by taking worries off their minds.

Salman Sufi was also instrumental in the promulgation of Punjab Shehr-e-Khamoshan Authority Ordinance in April 2017. He said, “I will happily take over the project. It’s my favourite project and I worked very hard on it.” Let’s hope the Board will be formed soon that is supposed to take this project forward which is a step towards creating a dignified and kinder society.