Uman Buzdar
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar Image Credit: Twitter

On July 1, the Punjab government announced a three-day extension in Lahore’s smart lockdown. The 15-day lockdown, in seven cities of Punjab, of those particular areas that had high occurrence of COVID-19, was an attempt to properly enforce the effective test-trace-treat-quarantine principle.

On July 2, the Punjab government introduced administrative reforms in the context of its E-Governance. The idea is the enhancement of ease of doing business and hassle-free attainment of NOCs related to the sector of construction that is highly conducive for providing employment opportunities to daily wage earners in the time of coronavirus.

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On July 2, the provincial cabinet, in a meeting chaired by the chief minister, gave the approval for the 2020-21 interim policy for facilitation to flour mills for procurement of government-released wheat. The policy’s main target is reduction in the price of a commodity the cheap availability of which is essential for the possibility of three basic meals for millions of people in the time of coronavirus and beyond.

On July 3, the provincial ministry of energy announced solarisation of all universities of the province. In a country where load-shedding is as much a part of everyday life as the sky changing colours, solarisation is an effective and cheap alternative to traditional ways of production of electricity in a world that is in a constant battle against the debilitating effects of climate change.

On July 3, in response to the news of a riot in the Gujarat District Jail that ensued due to the many complaints of the inmates about their gross mistreatment by jail officials, the chief minister ordered an immediate inquiry and suspension of officials found guilty of various misdemeanours. The chief minister, without mincing words, stated: “[Officials] who inflict cruelty on inmates will be given exemplary punishments. I will personally visit jails and issue instructions on the spot.”

On July 3, the provincial government took the necessary steps to ensure immediate assistance to the victims of the very unfortunate accident of the Shah Hussain Express near Sheikhupura.

On July 3, the chief minister reiterated his commitment to non-stop development of South Punjab, a large area comprising important cities like Multan, Rahimyar Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Bahawalpur and Bahawalnagar, which has been a traditional victim of the apathy of successive governments. The promise of the chief minister is to bring “all the backward areas on par with the developed cities.”

On July 3, the chief minister paid an unscheduled visit to the panahgah (shelter home) in the vicinity of the shrine of Data Gunj Bakhsh Hajveri. While interacting with the temporary residents to inquire about their issues, and to have feedback on the available facilities, expressing satisfaction at the efficient administration of the official in charge, the chief minister issued instructions to bring to the panagah people sleeping on sidewalks and in public parks.

On July 3, the chief minister made a night-time visit to the Special Branch of the Punjab Police. Stating that integration with information technology is essential for modernisation of the Special Branch’s monitoring room, he announced the plan of its future affiliation with the Punjab Information of Technology Board.

For the people

On July 4, without being encumbered by any official protocol, the chief minister drove to the Firdous Market under-construction underpass to have a personal inspection of the work. For facilitation of a large number of commuters of that particular route, the chief minister instructed the completion of the project as per schedule.

On July 4, the chief minister, tweeted–in the context of sustainable development of the provincial infrastructure, which includes availability of clean water in 20 pilot zones of Lahore–about the plan to construct a 64-kilometre ring road in Rawalpindi, “one of the most important cities of Pakistan where the increase in population has generated countless problems.” An economic plan for infrastructural development of various cities is under contemplation.

On July 4, the Government of Punjab, on the completion of 100 days of fight against COVID-19 shared that 44.8 billion rupees had been utilised for treatment of COVID-19 patients and for granting of tax relief to the affected people of the province. Using the latest IT systems, more than 200,000 people suspected of being COVID-19 infected have been accessed. Under the Insaf Imdad Program, many families affected by the lockdown have received immediate monetary compensation. With 18 new BSL laboratories, the daily testing from 190 tests has increased to 8,000 tests. Availability of essential medical equipment is ensured. The government has hired one thousand additional doctors, nurses, consultants and para medical staff in reinforcement of its commitment to the fight against COVID-19.

On July 4, the chief minister, in his reiteration of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s commitment for ensuring transparency and accountability in all governmental work, issued directives for the assessment of the schemes of maintenance and repair of roads constructed in the fiscal year 2019-20.

On July 5, the chief minister approved a coronavirus allowance for the personnel of Rescue 1122, Punjab’s emergency ambulance service. The notification for the Shaheed Package to those who died due to COVID-19 while on duty has been issued. All personnel on duly since April 1 will be given a special compensatory package. The chief minister stated, “We laud those who are serving in the time of coronavirus. The initiation of [this] allowance will serve as encouragement for our dedicated rescuers. In this difficult time, rescuers are standing, side by side, with [governmental] organisations and the nation.”

On July 5, on the directive of the chief minister, the anti-corruption department of Punjab continued its province-wide crackdown. The department, in the month of June, made a landmark recovery of “four billion, forty-one crore, ninety-five lakhs and sixty thousand rupees.” That is 4,419,560,000. Quite a lot of zeroes in this amount, phew.

On July 5, the chief minister visited different areas of Lahore to check the implementation of governmental steps for prevention of coronavirus and adherence to safety guidelines. Driving an SUV, he went around Lahore without any official protocol. The chief minister said, “Wearing of masks is compulsory when in public. The mandatory wearing of masks will be strictly enforced. Government’s preventive measures are for the safety of people’s lives. We appeal to everyone to follow governmental guidelines. The steps that Prime Minister Imran Khan, taking into consideration the ground realities, implemented have borne positive results.”

Scrolling through the Government of Punjab’s Twitter timeline, I thought of putting together some items from the itinerary of Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Ahmad Khan Buzdar. I stopped after the first five days of July.

Chief Minister Buzdar is a man of few words. And as someone wise, once upon a time unknown, said, “Actions speak louder than words.”

They do.

Mehr Tarar, Special to Gulf News-1592296810288