Schools under watch

Schools under watch

 http://tns.thenews.com.pk/schools-watch-education-monitoring-units-kpk/#.U1wh4KzOXp8

Will the Independent Monitoring Unit help improve attendance and performance of teachers and education administrators in KPK?

Schools under watch
Anything but a school.

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has launched an Independent Monitoring Unit (IMU) to improve attendance and performance of teachers and education administrators in the province. The IMU has been established under a three-year project funded by the UK’s Department for International Development. Rs500 million have been allocated for the initiative this year and more funds will be set aside for it in the next budget(s). The project will be extended if found useful after a third-party verification. Rs100 million have also been earmarked for establishing a third-party monitoring mechanism.

Muhammad Atif Khan, Provincial Minister for Elementary and Secondary Education (E&SE) Department, says 475 IMU monitors — 303 men and 172 women — have been appointed on merit for boys and girls schools respectively. They receive a fixed pay of Rs30,000 a month. Male monitors have been given motorcycles with Rs10,000 fuel allowance.

Each KP district has been divided in groups, each consisting of up to 60 schools and every monitor is responsible for visiting all the schools in his group. He/she has to visit a school at least once a month.

On the terms of references (ToRs) and standard operating procedure (SoP) of monitors, the minister says they are basically real-time data collectors and transmitters. “They have been trained for the purpose. They will collect, physically verify and send immediately data on the attendance of teachers, enrolment/dropout rate of students, needs and deficiencies of teachers and other school paraphernalia etc.”

The monitors will also collect data on the inspection of officers to schools, the distribution of free textbooks, stipends to the female students and the parents-teachers’ council (PTC) and other school funds. He says monitors have been given smart-phones with a proper format for feeding data and a general packet radio system (GPRS) to collect and transmit real-time data of/from the concerned schools to the IMU head office in Peshawar.

Asked what measures have been taken to guard against the misuse of powers by monitors, Khan says, “The monitors have been trained to be polite to principals/teachers, not to indulge in reasoning and avoid meddling in the teaching learning process. Their performance will also be monitored and action will be taken if any genuine complaints come to surface against them. The IMU is independent of the department’s control. They have to submit data immediately from the school they visit. This has been done to save the system from data/record-tampering.”

Lack of basic facilities at schools is a big problem. Over 20 per cent of the functional public schools in KP still have no boundary walls, 30 per cent no water supply, 42 per cent no electricity and 16 per cent no toilets facilities.

The KP Chief Minister, Pervez Khattak, recently issued directives of handing over the monitoring of all hospitals and basic health units to the IMU. But the system has been put in place in the education department only. The IMU has been empowered to monitor only schools in the public sector while education offices and private schools are still out of its ambit.

It is hoped the IMU will help pinpoint “ghost schools and proxy teachers” (the IMU, as reported, has detected 12 proxy teachers, four women among them, in government schools in Buner district recently), improve teachers’ attendance and make it easy/possible to take action against the corrupt and negligent elements in the department.

Most of the principals and head-masters of the E&SE Department support the initiative. They say teachers’ attendance and punctuality have improved significantly ever-since the launch of the IMU.

Mumtazuddin, a principal of a government higher secondary school, is all praise for the IMU. He says the IMU is a sort of an external counter-check upon the internal supervision system of the department. External or a third-party check, he says, is done everywhere in the world. “Officers fail to visit schools even in years. With teachers and internal monitors (administrative officers) mostly shirking responsibilities, the IMU is the need of the hour,” he says.

“Intra-district shuffling of monitors is being carried out every month to prevent the problems/dangers of familiarity/rapprochement between teachers and monitors. These dangers could be further minimised by inter-district shifting of monitors,” according to another principal.

Tahir Ali2

Some teachers support the move: “One of the biggest problems is the flawed monitoring system. Exceptions apart, our departmental monitoring system is too politicised, powerless and under-funded. One hopes the IMU will be kept safe from political interference, corruption, and data-delaying/tampering for whatever reasons. Much will depend also on whether its recommendations will be executed,” a teacher says.

But some term it ‘an unwarranted and inapt’ move that would ultimately bring little/no change. They say schools and teachers are monitored by head masters, and inspected by cluster heads, district education officers, directors, local bodies members, national and provincial assemblies’ members and chairman and members of the PTCs.

“There was no need to establish the IMU. Rather, the government should have strengthened/empowered the internal monitoring system. Schools should be left to the district education officers. Principals and officers should be empowered and political intervention in appointments and postings should be eliminated. Good administrators could do wonders,” says a teacher.

“Principals and administrators would also definitely give good results if facilities like smart-phones with GPRS connection and powers are provided to them and they are also made to report their inspection report immediately. Biometric attendance system at schools can also improve teachers’ punctuality. But teachers’ performance also needs to be improved. Principals should be explicitly authorised to hire new teachers from PTC or other school funds,” he argues.

Another teacher complains that earlier principals/headmasters and the district officers used to report on deficiencies and requirements of teachers, chairs, desks, books and other basic facilities regularly but these were scarcely fulfilled. Now monitors do the same, but will the government act upon their reports/recommendations? Khan responds the government will ensure speedy action on their reports and recommendations concerning administrative and financial matters and will allocate resources.

Khan says: “Rather it is a quest for excellence. Why would one have gone for this if the earlier internal monitoring system had been successful during the last 65 years? Our history proves and no one can contest that it has failed to deliver and that a change was needed.”

Another teacher, wishing anonymity, says: “The monitors visit a school once or twice a month. What if a teacher, who is otherwise punctual and dutiful, is on-leave or late on the monitor’s arrival date(s). Won’t that cause a negative and wrong perception about him in the IMU system?” He adds: “Educational monitoring is too technical a job to be left to inexperienced monitors. This is bound to fail.”

The KP E&SE Department possesses over 168000 employees with 133750 sanctioned and 119274 functional teachers who teach 3.9 million students in 28472 total and 27975 functional government primary, middle, high, and higher secondary schools.

It means a monitor will check around 250-280 teachers and 58-60 schools. The monitor-employee ratio will be 1:350 if education offices also come under their oversight.

Besides weak monitoring mechanism, crowded classrooms, indifference of teachers and administrators and political interference, lack of basic facilities at schools is a big problem. Over 20 per cent of the functional public schools in KP still have no boundary walls, 30 per cent no water supply, 42 per cent no electricity and 16 per cent no toilets facilities.

Tahir Ali

tahir ali
The author is an academic and a freelance columnist interested in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s politics, peace, education and economy. He may be reached at tahir_katlang@yahoo.com.
…………………
Original text of the article.
Impartial School Monitors
Or Independent Monitoring Unit
By Tahir Ali
The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has launched the Independent Monitoring Unit (IMU) to improve attendance and performance of teachers and education administrators in the province.
The IMU has been established under a three years project funded by the UK’s Department for International Development. Rs500mn have been allocated for the initiative this year and more funds will be set aside for it in the next budget (s). The project will be extended if found useful after third party verification. Rs100mn have also been earmarked for establishing a third party monitoring mechanism.
Muhammad Atif Khan, provincial minister for Elementary and Secondary Education (E&SE) department, says 475 IMU monitors -303 male and 172 female –have been appointed on merit for boys and girls schools respectively. They receive a fixed pay of Rs30000/pm. Male monitors have been given motorcycles with Rs10000 fuel allowance while female the latter.
Each KP district has been divided in groups –each consisting of up to 60 schools and every monitor is responsible for visiting all the schools in his group. He/she has to visit a school at least once a month.
About a question on the terms of references (ToRs) and standard operating procedure (SoP) of monitors and whether they could monitor the teaching-learning process, he said they are basically real-time data collectors and transmitters. “They have been trained for the purpose. They will collect, physically verify and send immediately data on the attendance of teachers, enrolment/dropout rate of students, needs and deficiencies of teachers and other school paraphernalia etc,” he said.
Monitors will also collect data on the inspection of officers to schools, the distribution of free textbooks, stipends to the female students and on the parents-teachers’ council (PTC) and other school funds.
For this purpose, he said, monitors have been given smart-phones with a proper format for feeding data and a general packet radio system (GPRS) to collect and transmit real-time data of/from the concerned schools to the IMU head-office in Peshawar.
Asked what measures have been taken to guard against the misuse of powers by monitors, Khan said. “Monitors have been trained to be polite to principals/teachers, not to indulge in reasoning or misbehaviour with them and avoid meddling in the teaching learning process. Their performance will also be monitored and action will be taken if any genuine complaints come to surface against them. The IMU is independent of department’s control. They have to submit data immediately from the school they visit. This has been done to save the system from data/record-tampering.”
KP chief minister Pervez Khattak recently issued directives of handing over the monitoring of all hospitals and basic health units to IMU. But the system has been put in place in the education department only partially: It has been empowered to monitor only schools in the public sector while education offices and private schools are still out of its ambit.
It is hoped IMU will help pinpoint “ghost schools and proxy teachers” (The IMU, as reported, has detected 12 proxy teachers, four women among them, in government schools in Buner district recently), improve teachers’ attendance and make it easy/possible to take action against the corrupt and negligent elements in the department.
Most of the principals and head-masters of the E&SE department support the initiative. They say teachers’ attendance and punctuality have improved significantly ever-since the launch of IMU.
Mumtazuddin, a principal of a government higher secondary school, was all praise for the IMU. He said IMU was a sort of an external counter-check upon the internal supervision system of the department. External or third-party check, he said, is done everywhere and is vital for bringing improvement.
“Officers fail to visit schools even in years. With teachers and internal monitors (administrative officers) mostly shirking responsibilities, IMU –an external monitoring system –was the need of the hour,” he said.
“Intra-district shuffling of monitors is being carried out every month to protect against the problems/dangers of familiarity/rapprochement between teachers and monitors. These dangers could be further minimized by inter-district shifting of monitors,” according to another principal.
Some teachers support the move: “One of the biggest problems is the flawed monitoring system. Exceptions apart, our departmental monitoring system is too politicized, powerless, underfunded, busy in file-work or lacklustre to properly monitor the schools under their jurisdiction. One hopes the IMU will be kept safe from political interference, corruption, and data-delaying/tampering for whatever reasons. Much will depend also on whether its recommendations will be impartially executed,” a teacher said.
But some oppose it terming it as ‘an unwarranted and inapt’ move that would ultimately bring little/no change. They say schools and teachers are monitored by head masters, and inspected by cluster heads, district education officers, directors, local bodies members, national and provincial assemblies’ members and chairman and members of the PTCs.
“There was no need to establish the IMU. Rather, the government should have strengthened/empowered the internal monitoring system. Schools should be left to the district education officers. Principals and officers should be empowered and political intervention in appointments and postings should be eliminated. Good administrators, like Mushtaq Ahmad, the ex-DEO Mardan, who comprehensively inspected all the schools of the district within a short span of three months, could do wonders,” said a teacher.
“Principals and administrators would also definitely give good results if facilities like smart-phones with GPRS connection and powers are provided to them and they are also made to report their inspection report immediately. Biometric attendance system at schools can also improve teachers’ punctuality. But teachers’ competencies also need to be improved. Principals should be explicitly authorized to hire new teachers from PTC or other school funds,” he argued.
Another teacher said that earlier principals/headmasters and the district officers kept reporting the deficiencies and requirements on teachers, chairs, desks, books and other basic facilities regularly but these are scarcely fulfilled. Now monitors do the same but will the government act upon their reports/recommendations and fulfil the deficiencies? Khan responded the government will ensure speedy action on their reports and recommendations concerning administrative and financial matters and will allocate resources.
When asked whether the step/body was tantamount to a distrust on the existing monitoring mechanism and shouldn’t the age-old system have been reformed/strengthened rather than establishing a new system, Khan said: “Rather it is a quest for excellence. And why would one have gone for this if the earlier internal monitoring system had been successful during the last 65 years? Our history proves and no one can contest that it has failed to deliver and that a change was needed.”
Another teacher, wishing anonymity, said: “Monitors visit a school once or twice a month. Now what if a teacher who is otherwise punctual and dutiful is on-leave or late on the monitor’s arrival date(s). Won’t that cause a negative and wrong perception about him in the IMU system?”
“PTI has rewarded the youth with jobs as monitors. But educational monitoring is too difficult and technical a job to be left to inexperienced fellows. This is bound to fail. It will, however, create hatred for PTI amongst teachers as disputes surface later.”
The KP E&SE department possesses over 168000 employees with 133750 sanctioned and 119274 functional teachers who teach 3.9mn students in 28472 total but 27975 functional Government Primary, middle, high, and higher secondary schools.
It means a monitor will check around 250-280 teachers and 58-60 schools. The monitor-employee ratio will be 1:350 once education offices also come under their oversight, something impossible.
Experts say weak monitoring mechanism, teachers’ absenteeism, crowded classrooms, indifference of teachers and administrators, political interference and schools sans facilities, etc are some of the problems facing education in the province.
Distressingly, 20 per cent of the functional public schools still have no boundary walls, 30 per cent no water supply, 42 per cent no electricity and 16 per cent no toilets facilities. As for other facilities like library, computer and science laboratory, the report says, only 1205, 254 and 1152 off the 3092 male and 451, 154 and 561of the 1810 girls middle to higher schools have these facilities respectively. The rest have no such facilities and so are the GPSs.
Advertisements

Talking out of chaos

Talking out of chaos
As the momentum for talks with TTP builds up, all the stakeholders should be taken on board on how to conduct and implement the peace agenda
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/Mar2013-weekly/nos-10-03-2013/pol1.htm#3

Almost the entire commentaries on the possible peace talks with the proscribed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are focused on what and why to talk but the most important part of how talks are to be conducted and implemented has not been concentrated upon.

There is little disagreement, at least in political circles, on that talks should be held but the all important implementation stage of agreement, which was neglected in the past deals that led to their failure and restart of militancy in the country, should be focused more than anything else.

Khalid Aziz, Ex-Chief Secretary Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and a tribal affairs expert, opines the country’s political leadership is trying to build a national consensus on what to do but neglecting how it is to be done.

“Talks will be held as had already been. Hopefully, peace agreements would be signed as earlier done in Waziristan, Bajaur and Swat etc. Focus, to my mind, should have been on the implementation stage of agreements. It should be from the reverse side. It’s at the implementation stage that the real problems lie. So that stage needs more attention,” says Aziz.

“Accusations of violation of the pact by each side and differences would certainly come up. These have been responsible for failure of earlier militants-government pacts in the past. Answers to questions like who would be guarantors and responsible for implementation of the Jirga decisions, who will monitor the daily/minute details of progress on execution of agreement, what powers will they have etc needs to be discussed at length and consensus be built over them by all stakeholders. I mean there should be an elaborate implementation plan and execution structure already in place before any pact is signed,” he elaborates. “I think administrative support is more vital than political support for the Tribal Jirga holding talks.”

The Zardari-led Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the federal government and the Pakistan army have neither supported nor rejected the talks. Their official policy statement is also yet to come on the Tribal Jirga and the guarantors proposed by Taliban.

With militants continuously attacking the military personnel and installations (they released another video of beheading of six Pakistani soldiers recently), the Army may be reluctant to accept talks for the fear that it may be construed as weakness on its part.

Aziz urges the inclusion of Pakistan Army, the federal government, the KP government and all political and religious parties and other stakeholders in the process.

Though Taliban have asked Nawaz Sharif, Maulana Fazlur Rahman and Syed Munawar Hasan to become guarantors for the government and army, it is still not clear whether they themselves would give authority to the Tribal Jirga or appoint their own men for talks? And whether they would be acceptable to the government and Army?

Aziz says Taliban should be talked to as to who would be their guarantors but, “I think, they would try to solve the issue through tribal customs and prefer tribal guarantors.”

Will the Tribal Jirga have the guts to give independent decision against the TTP if it genuinely considers it on the wrong or will it pursue a policy of appeasement vis-à-vis them?

Afrasiab Khattak, the president of the KP ANP, sounds optimistic that the peace talks would succeed. “There is national consensus on three points: one, that terrorism and extremism is a problem that must be addressed quickly; two, that dialogue is the first priority and other options would follow later; three, that the problem would be tackled within the framework of law, constitution, security and sovereignty of the country,” he says.

The Central vice-Amir of JUI, Maulana Gul Naseeb Khan, is also hopeful. “We have organised the APC that was attended by almost the entire political and religious leadership from the opposition and the ruling sides. The basic responsibility of the peace talks rests with Tribal Jirga. Maulana Fazlur Rahman and KP Governor Engineer Shaukatullah will serve as a bridge between the Jirga and the parties in the conflict.” Khan says the Jirga will be extended in future and all parties will be included and taken along if needed.

“We have shown our mettle in the past. We had held successful dialogue with the militants during the MMA government. There was no operation, no terrorism when we were in power during 2002-2007,” Khan claims.

Asked whether the Tribal Jirga will be given authority by Taliban and whether the Jirga will be in a position to take independent decisions, Khattak says, “We should not go into details at this point. All problems will be solved as the process goes on. It is a continuous process. The Tribal Jirga is there and it already has started its activities and talked to the governor whose office would be a coordination office.”

Gul Naseeb Khan says waak or authority by both the contending sides is must for empowering the Jirga to decide on the problem.

Khattak argues violence and terrorism is too big a problem to be solved overnight. “The present status quo, no doubt, is unviable. It has to be wrapped up. For this, all political parties and institution should sit together to chalk out its workable alternative.”

Will the federal government and the security establishment own the talks process with Taliban? Khattak says he could give assurance from the government side but cannot say anything on behalf of Taliban. “The government and state institutions are sincere in talks. They will abide by the decisions if the talks are given political ownership by the national leadership. Our party leader Asafandyar Wali Khan will meet President Zardari, PM Ashraf and Army chief General Kayani and take them into confidence”

There is no backup plan as to what is to be done if talks fail to bring about peace in the country. When asked as to what is to be done if talks fail, Khattak says dialogue should be given a fair chance. “But if state’s writ is consistently challenged and its law and sovereignty is not accepted, then the state has the right to resort to other options and respond accordingly.”

Urgent steps

The Tribal Jirga formed by the JUI has members from all the tribal agencies. But as its members were nominated by the JUI chief and may be his party men, they may be biased towards a certain viewpoint. Unless the Jirga is expanded by including members from other parties (and this should be done quickly), it won’t get the respect and backing from the Pakistani society it needs.

There is obviously a communication gap between the stakeholders. There is a need to hold a national conference of all stakeholders. The present policy of leaving things to ‘the other’ by both civilian and military institutions should be given up.

The national leadership should take up the responsibility instead of being in the background. If Nawaz Sharif, Maulana Fazlur Rahman and Munawar Hasan and other politicians claim they are national leaders and if they think Fata is part of Pakistan and it needs to be brought under the state writ, then they should lead from the front.

A combined delegation consisting of members of the PML-N, the JI, the JUI (F and S) and other political parties, and teachers from Deobandi Madaris, military and civil establishment, judiciary, journalists, civil society etc should be formed, empowered and facilitated to start the dialogue process.

It should ask the parties in the conflict to stop attacks and halt operations. If any side ignores its request and continues with its intransigence, it should inform the nation and unite the entire nation against it. This joint Jirga should seek authority from both the sides. It will then listen to the demands and statements of both the sides separately.

tahir_katlang@yahoo.com

caption

Everyone wants peace, but how?

……..

Original text of the article as it was sent to The News

Grey areas in peace agenda and the way forward

By Tahir Ali

Almost the entire commentaries on the possible peace-talks with the proscribed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are focused on what and why to talk but the most important part of how talks are to be conducted and implemented has not been concentrated upon as it deserved.

There is little disagreement, at least in political circles, on that talks should be held but the all important implementation stage of agreement, which was neglected in the past deals that led to their failure and restart of militancy in the country, should be focused more than anything else.

Khalid Aziz, Ex Chief Secretary Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and a renowned tribal affairs expert, opines the country’s political leadership is trying to build a national consensus on what to do but neglecting on how it is to be done.

“Talks will be held as had already been. Hopefully peace-agreements would be signed as earlier done in Waziristan, Bajaur and Swat etc. Focus, to my mind, should have been on the implementation stage of agreements. It should be from the reverse side. It’s at the implementation stage that the real problems lie. So that stage needs more attention and more work on. Accusations of violation of the pact by each side and differences would certainly come up. These have been responsible for failure of earlier militants-government pacts in the past. Answers to questions like who would be guarantors and responsible for implementation of the jirga decisions, who will monitor the daily/minute details of progress on execution of agreement, what powers will they have etc needs to be discussed at length and consensus be built over them by all stakeholders. I mean there should be an elaborate implementation plan and execution structure already in place before any pact is signed,” he says.

“I think administrative support is more vital than political support for the Tribal Jirga holding talks and in implementation of its decisions,” he adds.

The Zardari-led Pakistan peoples’ party (PPP), the federal government and the Pakistan army have neither supported nor rejected the talks (it was PPP Parliamentarian, declared an NGO by federal government lawyer in Lahore high court, that attended the All parties conferences held on the issue). Their official policy statement is also yet to come on the Tribal Jirga and the guarantors proposed by Taliban.

With militants continuously attacking the military personal and installations (they released another video of beheading six Pakistani soldiers recently) the Army may be reluctant to accept talks for the fear that it may be construed weakness on its part. And will it give its authority to a Tribal Jirga, which may be apparently supportive or apprehensive of Taliban?

Aziz urges the inclusion of Pakistan Army, the federal government, KP government and all political and religious parties and other stakeholders in the process.

Though Taliban have asked Nawaz Sharif, Maulana Fazlur Rahman and Syed Munawar Hassan to become guarantors for the government and army, it is still not clear whether they themselves would give authority to the Tribal Jirga or appoint their own men for talks? And whether they would be acceptable to the government and Army?

Aziz said Taliban should be talked to as to who would be their guarantors but, I think, they would try to solve the issue through tribal customs and prefer tribal guarantors.

Will the Tribal Jirga have the guts to give independent decision against the TTP if it genuinely considers it on the wrong or will it pursue a policy of appeasement vis-à-vis them?

Afrasiab Khatak, the president of the KP ANP, sounds optimistic that the peace-talks would succeed. “There is national consensus on three points: one, that terrorism and extremism is a problem that must be addressed quickly; two, that dialogue is the first priority and other options would follow later; three, that the problem would be tackled within the framework of law, constitution, security and sovereignty of the country,” he says.

The Central vice Amir of JUI Maulana Gul Naseeb Khan, is also hopeful. “We have organised APC that was attended by the almost the entire political and religious leadership from opposition and ruling sides. The basic responsibility of the peace talks rests with Tribal Jirga. Maulana Fazlur Rehman and KP Governor Engineer Shaukatullah will serve as a bridge between the Jirga and the parties in the conflict. Jirga is to be extended in future. All parties will be included and taken along if needed,” he adds.

“We have shown our mettle in the past. We had held successful dialogue with the militants during the MMA government. There was no operation, no terrorism when we were in power during 2002-2007,” Khan claims

When asked whether the Tribal Jirga will be given authority by Taliban and whether the jirga will be in a position to take independent decisions, Khattak said we should not go into details at this point. “All problems will be solved as the process goes on. It is a continuous process. The Tribal Jirga is there. One of the major successes is that it will be expanded. An all encompassing jirga would hold talks with militants and the government. It already has started its activities and talked to the Governor whose office would be a coordination office,” he adds.

Gul Naseeb Khan said waak or authority by both the contending sides is must for empowering the jirga to decide on the problem.

Khattak says violence and terrorism is too big a problem to be solved overnight. “The present status quo, no doubt, is unviable. It has to be wrapped up. For this all political parties and institution should sit together to chalk out its workable alternative.”

To another question will the federal government and the security establishment own the talks process with Taliban, he says he could assure that from the government side but cannot say anything on behalf of Taliban. “The government and state institutions are sincere in talks. They will abide by the decisions if the talks are given political ownership by all the national leadership. Our party leader Asafandyar Wali Khan will meet President Zardari, PM Ashraf and Army chief General Kayani and take them into confidence”

Maulan Naseeb said all state institutions would back the process of dialogue which is the collective decision of all opposition and governing parties.

There is no backup plan as to what is to be done if talks fail to bring about peace in the country. When asked as to what is to be done if talks fail, Khattak said dialogue should be given a fair chance. “It should be the first priority. But if state’ writ is consistently challenged and its law and sovereignty is not accepted, then the state and the nation has the right to resort to other options and respond correspondingly.”

The JUI leader however said policies and decisions shouldn’t be made on the basis of hypotheses. “We are hopeful the talks would be successful. No such deadlock would occur. We will see to it if and when such problem arises.”

Urgent steps

The Tribal Jirga formed by the JUI has members from all the tribal agencies but as its members were nominated by the JUI chief and may be his party-men, they may be biased towards a certain viewpoint. Unless the Jirga is expanded by including members from other parties (and this should be done quickly), it won’t get the respect and backing from the Pakistani society it needs.

There is obviously communication gap between the stakeholders. There is a need to hold a national conference of all stakeholders. The present policy of leaving things to ‘the other’ by both civilian and military institutions should be given up.

 

The national leadership should take up the responsibility instead of being in the background. If Nawaz Sharif, Maualan Fazlur Rehman and Munawar Hasan and other politicians claim they are national leaders and if they think Fata is part of Pakistan and it needs to be brought under the state writ, then they should lead from the front.

A combined delegation consisting of members of PML-N, JI, JUI (F and S) and other political parties, and teachers from Deobandi Madaris, military and civil establishment, judiciary, journalists, civil society etc should be formed, empowered and facilitated to start the dialogue process.

It should ask the parties in the conflict to stop attacks and halt operations. If any side ignores its request and continues with its intransigence, it should inform the nation and unite the entire nation against it.

This joint jirga should seek authority from both the sides. It will then listen to the demands and statements of both sides separately. Then it will consider them in its private and confidential sessions. It will try first to reconcile the two opposing thoughts and if that is not possible, then it will take unbiased, neutral and rightful decisions.

This body or another implementation body made by it will be responsible for supervision of the implementation of any agreement. For this it will have far reaching powers including that of hearing the appeals and deciding on the accusations by the two sides as well as appointing, transferring, calling, arresting and jailing those responsible for violating the terms of the treaty.

(Added. Not included in the text sent to TNS) Drone attacks will have to be stopped and cease fire too will be required. The government will have to make a policy statement on talks in the parliament. The role of federal govt is vital as the centre of insurgency Fata is under its administrative control. A national conference of all stakeholders must be arranged without any delay.

 

                                                                       (tahir_katlang@yahoo.com)

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s hydro-power plan

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s 10-year hydro-power plan
By Tahir Ali
13th August, 2012

THE Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has launched a 10-year hydro-power action plan under which several projects would be executed in the province to generate 2100 megawatts of electricity.

Under the action plan 2011-2025, the Sarhad Hydro-Development Organisation (Shydo) would initiate eight hydro projects with a capacity of 628MW. These are Matiltan HPP, Swat, 84MW; Sharmai Dir 115MW; Koto Dir 31MW; Karora Kohistan 10MW; Jabori Mansehra eight MW; Shushai-Zhendoli Chitral 144MW; Shogo Sin Chitral 132 MW and Lawi Chitral 69MW.

KP Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti recently inaugurated the Matiltan and Daral Khwar hydro power projects (HPPs) in Swat with 84 and 36.5MW capacity each.

The Matiltan power station would have 6km long tunnel and would be completed in next five years while the Daral Khwar HPP at a cost of Rs7bn was expected to be ready in next three years. The later will be funded through Hydro Development Fund (HDF) and ADP in a ratio of 90:10 respectively.

According to official documents, Shydo has also started feasibility study of another 13 projects with a capacity of 1322MW to be completed in next two to three years at a cost of Rs5 billion.

Shydo is currently operating four projects in the province –one each in Malakand and Swabi districts and two in Chitral district.

The installed capacity of these projects is 105MW with an annual revenue generation capacity of over Rs2bn to 3bn.

A loan agreement has been signed with the Asian Development Bank for the development of hydro power projects at a cost of Rs60bn. Besides funding some projects under the same loan, Shydo has also financed feasibility studies of three projects of 48MW in Koto HPP Dir Lower, Shangla and Mansehra. Construction of these plants would start this year.

Shydo has also completed pre-feasibility studies of 10 sites in various districts of the province and these sites will be offered to private sector for development.

Chief officer of the Planning and Development Department Usman Gul said energy and power sector were priority sectors of the KP government. “We have entered the implementation stage and now the infrastructure will be developed in these areas.

However, these are long-term projects which will bear fruit in 4-5 years,” he said.

Though the rest of Malakand division accounts for most of the planned hydro power projects, Swat has very little share in the programme. Swat has great potential for run of the river projects.

According to the Shydo official, the government was spending 50 per cent of the funds in Malakand Dvision. “Almost 13 out of 15 ongoing projects and Rs600mn of Rs1.137bn total are for Malakand. Of the total cost of Rs23bn, the total project cost in case of Malakand division comes to around Rs16bn,” he added.

The provincial government from this fiscal year has doubled the royalty for power generating areas to 10 per cent of the net hydro profits receivable from Wapda/federal government from five per cent which would be spent on development in the areas.

The said share will be over and above the districts’ and provincial ADP.

KP’s neglected economic roadmaps

Planning
KP’s neglected economic roadmaps
The Comprehensive Development Strategy (CDS) is an ambitious economic growth plan
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/jul2012-weekly/nos-08-07-2012/pol1.htm#3

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has prepared quite a few documents which, if implemented, could originate unprecedented economic development in the province. However, these economic roadmaps are generally overlooked while setting development priorities for different sectors.

According to the Comprehensive Development Strategy (CDS 2010-17), the province has strong agricultural potentials, and offers a diverse climate and landscape for a variety of tourism activities. “Located at the crossroads of important international trading routes, the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have long traditions of trade and travel. Hydroelectric power, forestry and minerals offer resources for a modern economy,” it states.

The Economic Growth Strategy (EGS) also envisions that acceleration of growth will be realized by concentrating on natural resource endowments of KP in hydel power, mining and minerals, Oil and Gas and agriculture value addition and agro-processing industries.

“With huge potential for development there is a necessity to focus on growth. Unfortunately, the resources’ investment strategy while following a much trodden path for decades remained captive to an antiquated thinking; to invest more and more in brick and mortar as a development solution to the problems of low and slow growth; high rates of unemployment and underemployment; a decadent infrastructure; inefficient, inadequate transportation facilities; a non-competitive industrial sector and last but not the least, stagnant human development indicators,” states the EGS.

According to the Whitepaper for this and last year, the previous ADPs were skewed towards brick and mortar projects and whereas the social sectors (education and health etc) have consumed a sizeable chunk of the development program, the socio-economic (food, agriculture, roads etc) and productive sectors (energy, minerals etc) remained low in priorities.

The growth policy will target the sectors with comparative advantages of indigenous raw materials and natural resources like minerals, tourisms and agriculture with a significant increase in total investment in productive sectors to attain higher rate of growth, states the EGS and stipulates that foreign loans would be sought for productive sectors if required and for the socio-economic and social sectors only grants would be utilised.

The EGS, the CDS and the budget whitepaper, said the KP finance minister Humayun Khan, have served as the bases of the annual development programme (ADP) this year.

But while in the Rs303bn budget, ADP, with an outlay of Rs97.4bn, including foreign component of Rs23bn, has a share of 35 per cent against 65 percent for current budget which is in line with the EGS recommendations, most of the budget targets and allocations don’t match with these official strategies.

While the EGS recommends 70 ADP funds for ongoing and 30 per cent for new schemes, they have been allocated 62.5 per cent (Rs46bn) and 37.5 per cent (Rs27.8bn) funds respectively in the core provincial ADP of Rs74.2bn.

The province has abundant potential in water, oil and gas and precious stones like marbles and other minerals. Around 6.76 per cent area of KP is under exploration for oil and gas reserves with a one billion barrel of oil and four trillion cubic feet of gas. Investment in these sectors can offer a base for developing a flourishing industry.

While the EGS says productive sectors and socio-economic sectors would be given top priority in funds allocation and the expenditure on social sectors would be capped at current level, allocations to the sectors speak otherwise.

Against the avowed 70 per cent, 30 per cent and 20 per cent share in the ADP for the productive, socio-economic and social sectors respectively as per the EGS, the 9 productive and 7 socio-economic sectors have been allocated just 12 per cent (Rs11.6bn) and 23 per cent (Rs22.6bn) respectively in the ADP while the social sectors have got 39 per cent (Rs37.9bn).

While education and roads have got over Rs22bn and over Rs14bn respectively, energy and mineral sectors got only Rs1.8bn and Rs0.5bn in that order. Allocations for minerals and minerals stand around only 0.9 per cent and at less than two per cent each for energy, power and agriculture sectors.

In the FY 2010/11 too, out of 972 projects funded through ADP, mines and minerals had only 11 projects with an allocation of Rs255mn at 0.42 percent of ADP.

By the end of 2012, the CDS stipulates an additional Rs14.6bn for the agriculture sector which obviously is far higher than the existing new ADP allocation of Rs1.4bn In the outgoing year too, the productive sectors were allocated Rs10.8billion, the socio-economic Rs21.3bn and the social sectors Rs36.8bn in the total core ADP of Rs69bn.

The CDS is a pretty ambitious economic growth roadmap. Its total seven years’ financial cost above the 2010 level expenditure is Rs960 of which Rs648bn would be for development expenditure and the rest for current expenditure. Rs516bn of these would be met through local resources and Rs444bn from external assistance.

It recognises increased insecurity, financial mismanagement, food inflation, inconsistency and duplication for increased donor funding, climatic hazards such as flooding etc as main risks to the implementation of CDS, and has suggested remedial measures.

But the CDS ironically has failed to point alternative resources in case the expectation of increased domestic revenue and foreign assistance fail to materialise while the current expenditure increases beyond the estimates.

Under the annual strategy review (ASR), a detailed analysis of the ADP 2010-11 and 2011-12 was carried out to know whether development allocations in different sectors matched the above strategies and with the short term allocations for those sectors in CDS. As per the ASR, Rs126bn out of the total ADP for 2010-12 were allocated against the CDS recommendations/allocations of 201bn.

“The province is far from eradicating poverty by 2015, and is unlikely to be able to effect a reduction in poverty incidence to 20 percent, as articulated in the CDS,” states the CDS paper. The white paper and EGS eye reduction in throw forward liability — the money required to complete all the ADP projects-by allocating more resources to ongoing project i.e. 70 percent of ADP.

But as the government usually misses the development targets for several departments come up with attractive projects that they could not execute, the throw forward liability is on the rise and is expected to be Rs343bn by end of this fiscal.

The government could utilise Rs79bn off Rs85bn last fiscal, Rs61bn off Rs69bn in 2010 and Rs46bn off Rs51 in 2009. If it cannot ensure full utilization of funds, what is the justification of increasing development outlays that results in throw forward liability for the
coming governments?

And if this government which, besides phenomenal increase in its federal receipts, has been getting Rs25bn in net hydro profit arrears could not bring down the number of in-complete development projects, how would the incoming governments do when the money would cease to come from 2013-14 onwards.

The foreign component projections at Rs23bn also seems unrealistic as the revised estimates for this head in last year stood at just Rs7.5 against Rs16bn of budget estimates.

KP has given top priority to energy and power sector. In this regard substantial amount of net hydel profit arrears has been transferred to Hydel Development Fund (with assets of Rs24bn) and various schemes are under pre-feasibility, feasibility and implementation stages in the province.

The KP government has prepared a 10-year hydro power generation action plan worth Rs330 billion according to which 24 projects would be initiated in KP to generate 2100 megawatts of electricity. But there is a perception that had this government started these projects when it was installed, the province would have no problem of loadshedding now.

According to a 2004 survey, industrialists and traders in KP identified policy uncertainty, tax administration, access to electricity supply, corruption, access to finance, insecurity and transportation as major hindrances to growth.

There is some good news in the budget too. While the foreign project assistance was just Rs4.61bn in 2008 with 83 per cent of it comprising loan component, it has increased to Rs23bn this year with 84 per cent of it to be in shape of grants and only 16 per cent as loans.

Numerous pro-poor schemes have been allocated Rs5.7bn against Rs4.5bn in last fiscal. Ranging from students’ related scholarship scheme to laptop distribution schemes to schemes in health, IT and agriculture sector etc, these also have a scheme for long term financing schemes for industrialists.

Snags in flood compensation

On the cards
Flood affectees of 2010 still await monetary help in the shape of Watan Cards they were promised
By Tahir Ali

 

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/may2012-weekly/nos-13-05-2012/pol1.htm#3

Even after almost two years since the devastating 2010 flash-floods hit the country, financial support to flood affected people – the citizens’ damage compensation programme (CDCP) – is still a long way to go as only Rs20 billion of the total payable around Rs48bn have been disbursed by April 5 this year.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has exceeded other provinces in the provision of compensation amount to the flood victims, thanks to its expertise in dealing with militancy compensation programme in the militancy-hit Malakand division and the Bajaur and Mohmand agencies.

Out of the total amount of Rs20.03bn distributed in the country so far at the rate of Rs20,000 per head per tranche, KP has distributed Rs9.06bn and almost completed the second phase while Punjab has disbursed Rs7.71bn, Sindh 2.89bn, AJK Rs0.16bn, Gilgit Baltistan Rs0.12bn and Balochistan only Rs0.065bn.

While KP accounts for 45 per cent, Punjab 38 and Sindh 14 per cent of the payment, the rest of the areas each account for less than one per cent.

KP is ahead of other provinces in the processing of Watan Cards too. Out of total 0.79mn flood-hit persons in the country, Watan Cards for 0.739mn have been processed. While in Sindh the cards of 0.14mn out of 0.164mn (or 84 percent) and in Punjab, 0.31mn off the 0.338mn cards or 92 percent have been activated, KP has processed 0.263mn cards off the total 0.276mn or over 95 percent. Balochistan has processed 3271 out of the total 3732 cards.

According to an official of KP government, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, for a flood compensation house damage was made a criterion but it was only flood support and not house compensation as that required huge funds which was beyond KP’s resources.

The government earlier had paid Rs0.4mn for a fully destroyed house and Rs0.16mn for partially destroyed one in militancy in Malakand division but the amount was mostly provided by foreign donors, which was not the case for flood compensation.

“The strategy was approved in the Council of Common Interest (CCI) meeting following the floods. While Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan went for blanket coverage of the affected districts, KP could not do so for its limited resources and, instead, it argued for limited payment after verification on the basis of complete or partial damage to houses,” said the official.

Despite remarkable success, there are allegations of political influence in the registration process of flood affected people and corrupt practices.

Though official data put the number of beneficiaries for compensation at 0.789mn and 0.275 in the country and KP respectively, a worker with a non-governmental organization during the floods, wishing anonymity, said actual flood-hit people were far less than projected.

The official said Watan Cards were even distributed amongst ‘beneficiaries’ from areas not hit by floods altogether or who hailed from those areas of the affected districts that remained safe from floods.

“The number of ‘affected people’ was increased to accommodate the lists given by political leaders. These inflated lists of ‘affected people’ put burden on the meagre financial resources as less money had now to be distributed amongst too many. This explains why the government had to slash the compensation money to Rs60,000 from the earlier pledged Rs100,000 per affected person,” he informs.

A social worker from Nowshera said that 20-30 persons from Zakhi Maiana Nowshera, whose houses were damaged by floods, haven’t been issued cards.

The official rejected the allegation of political registration saying the World Bank’s third party validation had termed the registration process fair and that’s why we were able to begin subsequent phases for compensation across the province.

“The beneficiaries were selected by a committee in each union council, comprising Patwari, teacher, elected public representative, Pak Army personnel (where available as in Swat) and local elders. Later, the PDMA submitted the compiled data to NADRA for verification. After verification, they were granted compensation through Watan Card. Later, after the third party validation by the World Bank on the basis of Phase-I survey, a list of 0.27mn recipients was generated for the payment of 2nd and 3rd tranches under CDCP- Phase-II,” says the official.

“The government and donors have tried their level best to ensure objective and accurate data, exclusion of the well-off and inclusion of legitimate flood affected people but if even then a deserving person has not been issued card during phase-I and Phase-II, he/she may submit his/her appeal at each Nadra grievances cell at Watan Card nominated centres in each district of KP.

However, some problems on the beneficiaries’ side, e.g., their fingerprints mismatched, they provided incorrect CNIC numbers, had another beneficiary in the family, had double entries or provided wrong or incomplete addresses, etc, caused delays,” he added.

As for the allegations of registering recipients from areas not affected during floods, the official explained it was because the compensation was meant both for houses that were damaged by floods and rains in July and August, 2010.

There are also problems on the development side, according to sources. “Despite commendable performance during the emergency relief and early recovery phases, the pace and quality of the third phase of development has been greatly undermined by nepotism, political intervention, mismanagement that has resulted in over-focus on certain areas, duplication in work and wastage of funds, corruption and for lack of accountability owing to the decreased focus of the media and government. And worst, the social work has become a business for many an unscrupulous people,” said the worker.

The official, however, rejected the allegations of corruption and political interference and said that the efforts have been made for transparency and to avoid any duplication of work so that resources may not be wasted. “A separate rehabilitation and reconstruction directorate in the province has also been established to ensure transparency and coordination between the development partners,’ he said.

He defended the NGOs which, he said, helped the government cope with catastrophes and therefore deserved and got every possible support.  “In the early recovery phase, local and international NGOs built makeshift transitional shelters for the flood victims but these were of no use as they started constructing their homes themselves soon after. The phase of building permanent shelters for the people later begun but the facility was mostly availed by those who weren’t hit by floods. And the poor most of the victims couldn’t get shelters as they lived on rented land and the owners/landlords didn’t allow them to have shelters built for them. The government should have allocated state lands for these people,” he added.

caption

Out and waiting.

 

No end in sight

There are complaints of difficulties in receiving money from banks. Long queues of beneficiaries, including women, are seen in front of designated bank branches.

To offset this, in October 07, 2011, the state bank of Pakistan directed all commercial banks to make special arrangements to ensure that their ATMs were operational, cash was replenished in a timely manner and that no service charges were required on the use of Watan cards from the beneficiaries.

Floods inflicted a loss of around $10bn on Pakistan. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa suffered $1.2 billion losses and requires $2.2 billion for the flood reconstruction. However, foreign donor support hasn’t arrived as expected. It seems issues of transparency, poor planning, donor fatigue and indifference of local leaders to provide their due in donations are to be blamed for the phenomenon.

According to UN figures, of the $2.6bn funded – actually contributed or committed – so far by foreign countries for flood victims in Pakistan, over $372mn are still to be paid. Strangely, most of the contributions were made by Non-Muslim world and the Muslim countries lagged far behind. Amongst the top 10 donor countries, contributing around $1691mn, $1617 were given by former and only $228mn were funded by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates of which $90mn are still non-committed pledges. The USA, Japan and UK with $683mn, $301 and $224mn are the leading donor countries.

 

Sluggish wheat harvesting in KP

Issues in wheat harvesting
By Tahir Ali

http://dawn.com/2012/05/21/issues-in-wheat-harvesting/

THE unusually cold, rainy/cloudy and windy weather in April and May in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has delayed wheat harvesting in various stages across parts of the province.

The harvesting process has been completed in KP’s hot southern climatic zone (Dera Ismail Khan, Tank, Lakki Marwat etc.,) last month and continues in the central zone (Peshawar, Charsadda and Mardan etc.). The crop in the northern zone (Swat, Dir etc) will mature later, farmers say.

According to Sahibzaman and Abdul Jabbar, farmers from Swat, and Nasir Khan, a farmer from Dir, wheat crop will be ready for harvesting in a fortnight in lower Swat and Dir areas but in upper/cooler parts of the districts will be ripe by end of next month where harvesting and threshing usually last till July.

Abdur Rahim Khan, general secretary Chamber of Agriculture KP, said wheat harvesting in central zone would be over within a week or so.
“Harvesting in the area is usually completed by the end of April but this year the cold weather delayed maturity. The farmers also feared that the harvested crop lying in the fields for threshing, may get damaged in case it rains. The manual reaping of the crop takes a lot of time,” he said.

Mr Khan recalled that gone are the days when farmers would reap their crops through Ashar –where farmers would help
each other in harvesting and threshing.

“Farmers in KP now mostly get their crop harvested through labourers. The labourers and farmers share the crop in different ratios. In Peshawar, for example, labourers get 1/10th of the produce as remuneration. In other areas, they are hired on daily wages ranging between Rs250-300 plus meals and stay,” said Khan.

An official of the KP agriculture ministry said government farms and big private farms hired reaper machines for harvesting but it was predominantly done by hands.

“Small landholdings, poverty and illiteracy of farmers in KP have rendered mechanised harvesting difficult and farmers either reap the crop themselves or hire labourers. But the shortage of trained harvesters is adding to their woes,” he said.

Mechanical harvesting is faster and reduces post-harvest losses by a great margin, said the official.

“A farmer with five acres hires labour for manual crop cutting, which costs him 13-14 maunds (over Rs18,000 at the rate of Rs1312/50kg) and takes 7-10 days. And if he goes for mechanised harvesting, it will take him 10 hours and cost him only around Rs10,000 (at the maximum rate of Rs1,000 per hour rent of the harvesting machine),” he argued.

According to farmers, labourers work in groups, visit the fields or hujrah of farmers and make deals with them. These harvesters usually are known in the area and can be contacted on cell phones.

Women harvesters are usually paid less than their male counterparts. A farmer Safdar Ali said a woman in his village single-handedly reaped his crop over five jarib at1/10 the share of the yield

Land under wheat cultivation increased from 0.724 million hectares last year to 0.758mh this year but continuing drought in the province in the critical period of grain formation, especially in the southern zone, hit the crop badly.

Farmers from DIK, Peshawar, Mardan and Swabi say the wheat crop in irrigated lands is healthy but over 50 per cent of the crop in rain-fed areas, that forms 55 per cent of the total wheat acreage in KP, has been lost.

Sabz Ali Shah, a farmer in Mardan, said his five jarib (2.5 acres) of non-irrigated land could produce only 12 maunds of wheat against the output of 60-80 maunds in previous years.

Another farmer Gul Raj Akbar said eight wheat harvesters took two days to cut his crop on six canals at the rate of 1.3 maund/jarib. “The yield was 25 maunds of which the labourers got around two maunds (100kg). Divide this amongst eight labourers and each got only six kg a day. Is it justified for the hard work they do,” he asked.

A farmer Manzur Haider, however, said, five labourers reaped his crop at 10 jarib (five acres) in less than three days and got 14 maunds in return at the rate of 1.4 maunds per jarib harvested.

“More than the lack of rain, the sale and use of substandard DAP has also damaged the crop. And while the prices of DAP and urea have more than doubled in the last two years, wheat support price has been marginally increased from Rs950 to Rs1050 per 40kg,” he added.

Mr Zaman said Swat crop would have been even larger had better seeds been provided to growers and lands hit by floods reclaimed by provincial authority.

On affordable and accessible agriculture credit

A small beginning
Banks must simplify and re-structure their lending mechanism
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/dec2011-weekly/nos-04-12-2011/pol1.htm#3

Financial help of farmers is necessary for the modernisation of farming and farmers’ prosperity. But small farmers who, according to some estimates, constitute 85 percent of the total 6.6 million farmers in the country, have negligible share in the agriculture credit disbursed in the country in general and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in particular. Those residing in the far-flung hilly and tribal areas are particularly affected by it.

Financial exclusion of the small farmers who have little resources to approach the research and extension systems, coupled with their illiteracy and poverty, keep away from commercial farming and expose themselves to low productivity, eventually adding to severe financial hardships.

They, in turn, have to rely on informal sector for their credit needs offered at higher rates, leaving them in a vicious debt-cycle and poverty trap.

Acknowledging that agricultural credit disbursement was worse in KP, the SBP launched some agriculture-credit schemes as part of its financial inclusion programme for KP but credit disbursement ratio couldn’t improve.

Countrywide, less than 2 million farmers of the total 6.6 million, get agriculture credit facility. The situation in KP, which accounts for less than 4 percent of the national agriculture credit disbursement and where over 90 percent are characterised as small farmers, is particularly dismal. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa accounted for Rs 7.9bn or only 3.4 percent of the total agriculture credit of Rs233bn in 2009. Only six percent of farmers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have access to agriculture credit against 21 percent for the country.

Various easy credit schemes, support price mechanism and subsidy regimes in the past were designed for small and medium scale farmers, but they scarcely benefited from the schemes and big landlords were the main beneficiaries.

One of the main reasons of small farmers’ financial exclusion is their inability to be bankable — to be able to provide collateral (the explicit or implicit guarantee against the possible risk associated with the loan) to banks as most of them are tenants, who don’t have any property registered in their names or own land below the required level.

Plenty of these farmers, especially those in villages, are also influenced and kept from applying for credit by the Riba-element, a necessary part of credit but avoided by most on religious grounds.

Small farmers have been practically neglected in the existing provincial agriculture policy developed in 2005. The policy has, however, yet to be updated to focus them despite several announcements.

As per the prudential regulations for agriculture financing, banks are required to ensure disbursement of working capital/short term loans within seven days but it is usually delayed. “The entire formalities for any agriculture loan require lengthy documentation and procedure and take around two to four months to get the loan,” says a bank manager on condition of anonymity, when asked about the process of loan delivery.

“Small farmers should be given loans on personal guarantee. Group-based credit schemes are being followed by small banks but needs to be taken up by the main private banks as well to improve credit disbursement ratio in the country. Crop and life insurance is the best way to decrease the risk of farming community against losses and of banks against non-repayment,” he adds.

Some farmers hold the banks responsible for low agriculture credit in the province. “The banks are risk-averse. They avoid lending loans to farmers for fear of default. Much has been said of the one-window operation but no bank as yet has come out with a fast track mechanism for credit disbursement. The banks must simplify and re-structure their agriculture lending mechanism and mobile credit officers should reach farmers at their doorsteps to boost credit delivery,” says Shahid Khan, a farmer in Mardan.

Last year, the KP government revived the erstwhile cooperative bank and promised to provide Rs1 billion seed money for easy farm and non-farm loans to small farmers from the bank but practically just Rs200mn were released. This year too, Rs400mn will be released. How can credit ratio be improved with this? 

Under agricultural loans scheme through the passbook system, banks are bound to allocate 70 percent of their loans to subsistence farmers but whether the law is followed is not clear.

In group-based lending, developed by the SBP, small farmer groups are formed by the lenders involving 5-10 members having identical needs and registered with the former. Collateral is generally not used and is replaced by personal guarantee —-a joint liability agreement/undertaking — takes its place wherein each member takes the responsibility of the outstanding debt of all group members. In case of any change in the group, a fresh guarantee would be signed by the members.

A group coordinator acts as facilitator of the group and agent of the bank. The bank ensure that group coordinator is executing the assigned tasks as prescribed like liaison with members, arrangement of meetings, etc, and if need be replace him, with the consensus of the group, in case he fails to deliver. Group members ensure that the bank receives timely repayments from individual borrower/group members. But if a borrower dies, liability lies to remaining group members. However life insurance is urged to safeguard the interests of both the borrowers and lenders.

Everyone who owns or is a tenant or lessee over up to12.5 acres of land or have more than 40 sheep, has computerised national identity card, residence in the village and membership in the village organisation, is eligible for crop or non-crop loans in the scheme. 

Though globally 12.5 acres of land is the threshold of subsistence farming but in Pakistan one having that much land is considered a rich person given the phenomenon of small land holding in the country. According to an estimate, cultivated land per person in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa stands at just at 0.2 acres. The benchmark needs to be brought down for bank credit if small farmers are to be benefited.

Repayment schedule for farm loans may be set as per production cycle of crops and for non-crop activities, like livestock farm establishment, it should be three to five years.

 

https://tahirkatlang.wordpress.com 


Flood compensation highest in KP

Flood compensation highest in KP

By Tahir Ali
2nd April, 2012
UNDER the damage compensation programme for citizens, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has so far disbursed the high amount as compared to other provinces.

KP has benefited from its experience in providing relief to affectees in militancy-hit areas.

Out of the total of Rs18.61 billion distributed in the country by March 20 at the rate of Rs20,000 per tranche, KP has distributed Rs8.48 billion, followed by Punjab Rs7.16 billion, Sindh 2.66 billion, AJK Rs0.1 billion, Gilgit Baltistan Rs0.12 billion and Balochistan Rs0.052 million. Total sum allocated for the country is Rs48 billion.

While KP accounts for 46 per cent, Punjab 39 and Sindh 14 per cent of the cash disbursed, the rest of the areas each account for less than one per cent.

KP is ahead of other provinces in the processing of Watan Cards too. Out of a total 0.79mn flood affected people in the country, Watan Cards for 0.72mn have been processed. While in Sindh cards of 0.13mn out of 0.164mn or 84 per cent and in Punjab, 0.31mn of the 0.338mn or 92 per cent have been activated. KP, however, has processed 0.261mn cards off the total 0.276mn or over 94 per cent. Balochistan has processed 3,271 out of the total 3,732 applications.

According to an official of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), for flood compensation house damage was made a criterion but it was only flood support and not house compensation as given in Malakand as it required an enormous fund which was beyond KP’s resources.

“The strategy was approved in the Council of Common Interest meeting following the floods. While Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan went for blanket coverage of the affected districts, KP could not do so for its limited resources and instead argued for limited payment after verification on the basis of complete or partial damage to houses,” said the official.

Despite remarkable achievements, there are allegations of political based registration of the flood-affected people and corrupt practices. According to allegations, elected peoples’ representatives and political parties gave the lists of their blue-eyed, not necessarily deserving ones. “Some areas which had not been affected by floods were also included in the compensation regime,” he said.

The PDMA official rejected the allegations and said the World Bank’s third party validation had termed it fair and unbiased and that’s the reason that they were able to start the second and the third phase in the province.

“The affected people were selected by a committee in each union council, comprising Patwari, teacher, elected public representative, army personnel (where necessary as in Swat) and local elders. Later, after verification of the data by Nadra, the affectees were given compensation through Watan Card. Later after third party validation by the World Bank on the basis of Phase-I survey, a list of 0.27mn affectees was prepared for the payment of second and third tranches under the CDCP- Phase-II,” he said.

“The government and donors have tried their best to ensure an accurate data, exclusion of the well-off and inclusion of legitimate affected people, but even then if any legitimate affectee has been left out during phase-I and Phase-II, he/she may submit appeal at the Nadra grievances cell at Watan Card nominated centres in each district of KP,” he added.

As far the allegation of registering affectees from areas not affected during floods, the official explained the compensation was not meant only for flood-affected houses but for any house that was damaged during the torrential rains and floods in the last week of July and first week of August, 2010. People have mostly ignored this fact.

Though official data put the number of affected entitled to compensation at 0.789mn and 0.275mn in the country and KP respectively, the IOM worker said actual flood affectees are fewer — around 0.080-0.090mn at the most.

Though the government had earlier resolved to provide Rs0.1mn as floods compensation, it had to slash it to Rs0.06mn later for shortage of funds.

Floods inflicted a loss of around $10bn on Pakistan. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa suffered $1.2 billion losses and required $2.2 billion for the flood reconstruction.

However, foreign donors’ support hasn’t arrived in promised quantities as expected. It seems the issues of transparency, fiscal incompetence, poor planning, donor fatigue and indifference of local leaders to provide their due in donations has kept the world from it.

There are complaints of difficulties in the receipt of money from banks. To offset this, in October 07, 2011, the state bank of Pakistan directed all commercial banks to make special arrangements to ensure that their ATMs were operational and cash was replenished in a timely manner and that no service charges were recovered on the use of Watan Cards.

Lower than estimated wheat crop in KP

be Lower than estimated wheat crop in KP
By Tahir Ali | From InpaperMagzine | 30th April, 2012

http://dawn.com/2012/04/30/lower-than-estimated-wheat-crop-in-kp/

WHEAT harvest in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa may be lower this year than expected earlier because of inhospitable weather, officials and farmers say.

An official of the Directorate-General of Agriculture Extension in KP said wheat acreage in the province had increased from 724,500 hectares last year to 758,350 hectares this year but the crop has suffered badly in rain-fed areas. The raid-fed areas contributes around 55 per cent of the provincial wheat output. The continued drought mainly in southern districts has diminished the prospects of a bumper crop.

Though wheat crop cultivated on irrigated lands in both the central, southern and northern districts is expected to be healthy, the crop in the fertile but rain-fed lands is feared to have been reduced by about 50-60 per cent for lack of rains during September to January.

“The southern rain-fed districts of Tank, Kohat, Karak, Laki Marwat and Dera Ismail Khan together with Haripur, Dir lower, Buner etc, did not receive any rainfall at the time of sowing. Little moisture in the soil also affected the germination at the start.

Later, occasional showers were received but at the time of flowering and grain-filling stages the weather remained almost dry for a long period. As a result the grain could not develop well and it is either not there or is too small. Hence lower crop yield is expected from the rain-fed areas of the province,” said the official.

“In the irrigated area, the crop is very promising and high yield is expected. However, in the last week of April rains throughout the province and storms in some parts, damaged crops including wheat. In Peshawar the crop was damaged due to hailstorm in Sarband, Achini, Sango Llandai, Nodeha,” he added.

When asked as to whether other factors like use of low quality seeds and less fertiliser have also affected the crop, the official said there was no shortage of such commodities. The department had obtained thousands of tons of quality seeds from registered growers or purchased them from Punjab Seeds’ Corporation and supplied these to the farmers in time.

An official of the agriculture department in Laki Marwat, predominantly a rain-fed district, said though the farmers had cultivated the crop on vast track of land, lack of rain had hit the crop and reduced the output by a big margin.
“Around 60 per cent of wheat crop on over 16,000 hectares in the district has no or small/dry grain. Around nine per cent of the wheat crop on irrigated land is also affected by water shortage. While generally a grain sprouts 10-12 plants when there is plentiful water, this year a grain has sprouted up only one plant in the district for lack of rains in the critical germination period,” he said.

The recent spell of rain is of no use for the crop as it has already matured. The rain instead can harm the crop if followed by winds, he added.

An official of the agriculture department in DIK and a farmer said the abnormal winds following rain in February this year had also damaged the crop to some extent. But the drought had little impact on the crop this year, he added.

A farmer from Mardan said that while the grain was healthy in the canal-fed lands, there were reports of small grains and weak/little stems from the rain-fed areas in the district.

Gushy winds after the recent downpour also damaged the mature crop as it shook and moved its roots. “While the rain reduced mercury that delayed maturity of the grains, the winds levelled down wheat plants in some areas. If rains continue, the fallen grain may fall prey to stem-rot disease for excess of water,” the farmer said.

“Little wheat crop means food shortage and food inflation. I am worried how farmers will pay their agricultural debts, and feed their families when they get low yield, said Ahmad Khan, a farmer.

The land under wheat cultivation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is 1/5th of the 2.75 million hectare total cultivable land in the province. It usually has a share of around four per cent in countrywide wheat yield. It could be increased by bringing the vast fertile land in southern districts lying uncultivated for want of irrigation water.

The low acreage and less yield per acre than the rest of the country leaves the province dependent for over two-thirds of its wheat needs of over three million tons on purchases from Passco and Punjab.

The government apart from bringing more land under cultivation can increase per acre yield by ensuring mechanised farming and providing better seeds.

It should ensure provision of seeds and fertiliser to farmers on subsidised rates. Access of farmers to agricultural loans needs to ensured with the help of banks and NGOs.

Swat wanluts await proper care

English: a walnut and a walnut core

Swat walnuts await proper care

By Tahir Ali

http://www.dawn.com/2011/12/26/walnut-trees-need-proper-care.html

SWAT accounts for around 50 per cent of walnut trees in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. But the lack of official support and negligence, deforestation, non-plantation of new trees and attack of stem-borer has endangered this great agricultural asset, farmers say.

“Walnut trees in the area, especially in the Madyan valley, are hit by stem-borers which penetrate deep into their stems, eat them up and eventually lead to the death of the tree. Porcupine also eats the nuts when they are sown. But these are curable phenomenon. Many farmers are unaware of these problems.”

Shah Abdar, a Swat-based farmer, says walnut is sold between Rs5,000-12,000/50kg in the market depending upon their size and quality.

“ Given support from the government, walnut could be a bigger source of income for the area people. An ordinary family in upper Swat owns on an average 3-4 walnut trees. A single tree yields around 100-300kg of nut which by the current market price of about Rs10,000/50kg earns the family around Rs80,000-240,000,” he said. The forest department every year runs tree plantation campaigns but no progress is visible on the ground.

“The reason for this is absence of personal ownership. The seeds or saplings cultivated are often destroyed as there is no sufficient care. The government needs to provide expert advice, walnut saplings and seeds, pesticides/insecticides to farmers to grow more trees. In the hope of large returns, they will do whatever possible to keep it safe and healthy,” he says.

Hundreds of tons of walnut are produced in Bahrain, Kalam and other valleys of Swat, but the real potential of the nut in the area is far from being utilised.

“Swat is the best place for growing walnut. The tree usually grows on ridges of mountains, in the gorges and river-banks and thus doesn’t impact the already less arable land. But despite being the main asset and source of income of the family, the number of walnut trees are on the decline and only about 5-10 per cent of the potential in the area has been utilised so far,” he said.

In 2005 walnut production in Swat was 4,963 tons, which jumped to 6,973 tons in 2006. But in 2008, after the spread of militancy in the area, it dived to 3,960 tons.

“Though main roads in the area have been repaired to some extent making communications possible, link roads to far flung areas in the valley remain damaged making them inaccessible. It leaves the poor with no choice but to sell their trees to fruit dealers on meagre prices,” he said.

Malakand division accounts for around 90 per cent of the provincial land under walnut trees and grows thousands of tons of nut in Chitral, Swat, Lower and Upper Dir, Kohistan and Shangla. Nut of different sizes, quality and colours are produced here and marketed.

Saeedur Rehman, another farmer said the kernel of walnut depending on its quality and taste is sold at Rs30,000-35,000/50kg in the market. The brighter the kernel, the better is the price,” he said.

He was particularly unhappy over cutting of young trees for getting “Dandansa”. The bark and roots of the tree used as Dandansa, which is smuggled to neighbouring countries, ” he said.

Walnut is beneficial to health. Experts say it stimulates brain and is believed to be useful in treatment of stomach, liver and kidney diseases. It is recommended for cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure. Walnut helps control cholesterol level, strengthens walls of blood vessels and prevents diabetes, supports immune system, helps improve memory and speeds up recovery after serious operation.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Walnut population short of potential

By Tahir Ali

Swat accounts for around 50 percent of the provincial walnut population and has around 500 hectares out of the total 1000 hectares under the walnut trees. But lack of official support, negligence of the concerned departments, continuous deforestation of the existing trees for getting ‘Dandansa’ and other purposes, non-cultivation of new ones and some ailments (stem-borer), ignorance of farmers and porcupine attacks have endangered this great asset,  farmers say.

“The walnut trees in the area, especially in Madyan valley are hit by stem-borer which eats up the stem eventually drying the tree. Porcupine also attack the seeds when they are planted. But these are curable phenomenon. The problem is most farmers are unaware of this,” said a farmer.

Shah Abdar, a Swat based farmer, said salnuts are sold between Rs5000-12000/50kg in the market depending upon their size, health and hardness or softness of nutshell.

“Subject to a little patronage and support from the government, walnut could be the greatest source of income and asset for the area people. An example will illustrate the point. An ordinary family in upper Swat owns on average 3-4 walnut trees. A walnut tree yields between 100kg-300kg of walnut fruit which by the current market price of about Rs10000/50kg earn them about Rs80,000-240,000,” he said.

The forest department, he said each year runs tree plantation campaigns but there is no progress on the ground.

“The reason for this is absence of personal ownership. The trees so cultivated are often destroyed by the people as there is no sufficient care and security for them.  The government and non-governmental organisations need to provide expert advice, walnut plantlets/seeds, pesticides/insecticides to farmers to grow more trees. It is only when the people will be provided plantlets or seeds and they grow it in their lands that the problem will be solved once and for all. In the hope of huge returns, they will do whatever possible to keep it safe and healthy,” he argued.

It can have great financial benefits for the poverty/militancy/floods-stricken farmers.

“Its financial benefits could be judged from the fact that there are around 5 big walnut tree is one canal of land. Farming families usually own less cultivable but much more non-cultivable lands in Swat. If we take the average land per family at 50 canals (around 6 acres) and the family grows walnut trees on it, it can become millionaire within no time. Just leave the 300kg yield per tree, even if the per tree yield is just 50kg, it will earn the family around Rs2.5million at the current market rate,” he opined.

He said hundreds of tons of walnuts are grown in Bahrain, Kalam and other valleys of Swat adding that the potential of walnut in the area is far from being utilized.

“Swat is the best place for walnut. The tree usually grows on mountain ridges, in the gorges and river-banks and thus doesn’t impact the already less arable land. But despite being the main asset and source of income for the family along with fruit, vegetable and livestock, the number of walnut trees has been on the decline and only about 5 to 10 per cent of the potential in the area has been utilised so far,” he said.

“Though main roads in the area have been repaired to some extent and communication made possible, the link roads to far flung areas in the valley are still inaccessible. It leaves the poor people with no choice but to sell their standing walnut trees to dealers on meagre prices thus incurring losses,” according to him.

Mlakand division accounts for around 90 per cent of provincial land under walnut trees and grows thousands of tons of walnut in Chitral, Swat, Lower and Upper Dir, Kohistan and Shangla.

Walnut of different sizes, quality and colour are produced here which are marketed in whole form or only its flesh, taken out and packed, is sold in the market.

Saeedur Rehman, another farmer said the walnut flesh, dependent upon its colour and taste, is sold at Rs30-35000/50kg in the market. The more the brighter the flesh, the better is the price. And the cooler an area, the more standard and delicious the walnut flesh,” he said.

He was particularly unhappy for cutting the walnut tree for getting “Dandansa”. “The problem is for Dandansa you have to cut down the younger trees whose stem-cover and roots are the best for the purpose. Even though it is unlawful to get Dandansa, its smuggling continues unabated which needs to be controlled,” he said.

Walnut has been found to be extremely beneficial for health. Experts say it stimulates brain and is believed to be useful in treatment of stomach, liver and kidney diseases. It is recommended for cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure. Walnut helps control cholesterol level, strengthens the walls of blood vessels and prevents diabetes, supports immune system, helps improve memory, speeds up the recovery period after a difficult operation or trauma.

Tapping the Solar Energy potential

Solar solution
Instead of investing heavily in the oil-run power plants, the government should explore the abundant solar energy potential for power generation
By Tahir Ali
http://jang.com.pk/thenews/nov2011-weekly/nos-20-11-2011/pol1.htm#1

Though Pakistan is beset with an acute energy crunch, it has failed to exploit the huge hydel power resources as well as the abundant solar energy potential for the power generation purposes for years.

The resourceful but unfortunate country receives high levels of solar radiation — approximately 1000 watts per square meter for most parts of the year. Global solar energy potential is estimated at 800 million megawatt while Pakistan has, according to an estimate, about 100,000MW solar energy potential, as it is the 6th luckiest country in the world where sunrays are available extending up to 16 hours in summer.

But Arif Allauddin, the chief executive officer of the Alternately Energy Development Board (AEDB), recently said that 2.9 million MW of electricity could be produced by utilising solar energy alone in the country.

The AEDB has signed several solar energy MoUs or contracts with different agencies for widespread use of off-grid solar technologies in Pakistan through public and private sector and for dissemination of solar energy and setting up local solar manufacturing facilities. But, the country is still far from exploiting the sun power for producing electricity that could run its factories and create millions of jobs in the country.

Instead of exploring the solar potential, the country has opted to invest heavily in the oil-run power plants, which has burdened the national exchequer with a huge oil import bill, exposed the people to exorbitant power tariff increases and still left the power producers with a circular debt of hundreds of billions of rupees during the last few years.

A project launched by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2003 in the Indian state of Karnataka, facilitated over 18,000 applications for loans for solar panels over three years. UNEP recruited two popular banks to take part in the project as part of their ‘priority sector lending’ obligation and it subsidised the loans to help decrease the interest rate. The project has been extended to other Indian states of Gujarat, Kerala and Maharashtra, and the UNEP plans to initiate similar projects in Algeria, China, Egypt, Ghana, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco and Tunisia, but Pakistan is not included in the list.

While the World Bank and Asian Development Bank are allocating funds for solar technologies, the local banks do not come forward to support the sector. Non-seriousness of authorities can be judged from the fact that AEDB has yet to issue the new updated alternate energy policy. The present policy was drafted in December 2006. The draft of the new energy policy, which has been sent to the Council of Common Interest for approval, intends to help boost the growth of the domestic renewable industry by 2014. It, among other things, aims to facilitate establishment of a domestic alternate renewable energy manufacturing base in the country and promote research on the technology in the country.

Solar energy, one of the best alternate energy sources, lessens pollution, reduces global warming and does not harm the ecosystem. Besides, it is abundant in supply and it has no maintenance and operation expenses as solar cells and panels don’t require fuel (gas and oil etc) which are getting costlier by the day. It is also convenient in places not covered by traditional grids and village electrification through solar energy has already been on the agenda of the AEDB, but there are several problems.

Solar energy generation technology is deemed costly and unaffordable for one person, but is considered within the reach when combined investment is made by a few families or the process is supported by the government and international bodies. High cost of solar system, public unawareness and banks’ reluctance to lend to investors is further hurting potential projects and keeping the technologies from dissemination.

Failure to establish local solar energy manufacturing units in the country has also made it comparatively costlier. And several government companies — AEDB, Pakistan Council for Renewable Technologies, the AEC, etc — dealing with the sector and the lengthy process of approval of solar energy projects also inhibit investors.

The fact that solar energy system can be installed with one time investment and then there is no maintenance or operating expenses, those who can afford it are coming towards the technology in great numbers.

According to a report, the country’s first on-grid solar electricity system, 180 KW each, is being built at Pakistan Engineering Council and the Planning Commission with financial help from Japan. It will not only fulfil their requirements but the surplus electricity will be sold to the Islamabad Electric Supply Company.

President Asif Ali Zardari had recently asked the concerned bodies to shift Presidency to solar power on the pattern of Planning Commission and Pakistan Engineering Council. He had also ordered that one town be converted to solar energy each year, all new development schemes should have solar streetlights and solar cookers, heat pumps, water heaters and water pumps be encouraged.

According to a report in the Guardian recently, Greece plans to sell its sun to Germany which plans to develop about 20,000 hectares of solar power parks there for exporting renewable energy to Germany. And Greece, facing a default after it secured £97 billion in rescue funds, hopes solar energy can help it out of its debt crisis.

Germany is the global leader in solar energy, but it has a lot less sun than Greece. After Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster, the German government has decided to close its nuclear reactors by 2022.

Hit worst by the ever increasing loadshedding and power tariff, many people in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are turning towards solar energy and the sales of solar panels are going up enormously in the province, and particularly in the federally and provincially administered tribal areas, where there is less pollution and high intensity sunrays that can produce more energy.

“People are turning to solar technology as loadshedding, costliness of power and the rising maintenance and operation expenditures of generators have left them with no other option,” says Wakeel Ahmad, a Peshawar-based dealer of solar technology. “Solar lamps have been installed near Peshawar bus stand and these are likely to be installed on streets and roads in the city very soon.”

“Solar technology is sold in watts at Rs250 per watt with 20 years warranty. A normal household with daily consumption of 1000watt would thus have to spend Rs250,000. The family could also buy a solar panel only at Rs40,000 to charge its electricity based un-interrupted power supply systems to use the power later in their homes,” Ahmad adds.

Nazir Ahmad, a Swabi-based dealer, says hundreds of solar energy systems are sold in the area. A Wapda official in Dir, wishing not to be named, says people in difficult terrain of the district have installed even imported solar systems which has brought revolution in their lives and agriculture.

Over a million tube-wells in Pakistan are eating up billions in power subsidy and consuming an estimated 1000-1500MW of power, straining the weak national grid.

According to Nazir Ahmad, a solar tube-well with 20 years guarantee can be bought for Rs0.9 million which pumps water non-stop from sunrise to sunset for irrigation. Solar pumps could fulfil the daily water requirements of small to medium size fish farms and communities as well.

“The government must provide incentives such as tax holidays, grants to the selected villages, some resource risk coverage, competitive tariff for solar energy and guaranteed purchase agreements from producers,” says the dealer. .

Solar technology on the rise in Pakistan

Rise in sale of solar panels

President Zardari recently asked the concerned bodies to shift Presidency to solar power on the pattern of Planning Commission and Pakistan Engineering Council. – File photo

While the huge hydro-power potential of the country still remains unutilised, quite a few people hit by loadshedding and power tariff hikes in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are turning towards solar energy.

Facilitated by high intensity sun-rays in the tribal belt, the sales of solar panels are going up. Wakeel Ahmad, a Peshawar-based dealer of solar panel, said people are turning to this technology as load-shedding/cost of power and the rising expenses on generators have left them with no option but to adopt solar technology. Nazir Ahmad, a dealer of solar energy equipment in Swabi, claimed that scores of solar energy panels are being sold in the area.

“Solar lamps have been installed near Peshawar bus stand with plans to install them on roads and streets in the city soon. Individuals are also coming up in great numbers to buy these panels,” he said.

“Solar panel is sold at Rs250 per watt with 20 years warranty. A normal household with daily consumption of 1000 watt would thus have to spend Rs250,000. The family could also buy a solar panel for Rs40,000 to charge the electricity-based uninterrupted power supply systems to use the power later in their homes,” he added.

A Wapda official in Dir said people in this difficult terrain have installed imported solar panels which have revolutionised their lives as well as agriculture. Over a million tube-wells in the country are using 1000-1500MW of power, straining the weak national grid, consuming over billions of rupees in power subsidy.

According to Ahmad, a solar tube-well with 20 years warranty could be installed by one-time investment of Rs0.9mn which can pump water non-stop from sunrise to sunset for irrigation. Solar pumps could fulfill the daily water requirements of small to medium-size fish farms and communities as well. These could pump water from a depth of up to 1000 feet, according to a report.

Pakistan receives high level of solar radiation throughout the year- around 1000 watts per square meter. Mr Arif Allauddin, chief executive officer of AEDB, said recently that 2.9mn MW could be produced through tapping solar energy in the country.

But Pakistan has failed to utilise solar power though it has opted to invest heavily in the oil-run power plants. The AEDB has signed several MoUs on installation of solar energy panels with different agencies. It plans widespread use of off-grid solar technologies in Pakistan through public and private sector cooperation. Setting up of local solar PV manufacturing facilities is also included in its programme.

However, the high installation cost of the system, lack of awareness among people, and banks’ reluctance to finance the system were hindering the spread of the technology.

Failure to establish local solar energy manufacturing units in the country has also made the system comparatively costlier.

Several government companies like AEDB, Pakistan Council for Renewable Technologies etc, dealing with the sector, and the lengthy process of approval of solar energy projects inhibit investors from adopting this system.

The technology may be costly and unaffordable for one person, but is considered within reach when combined investment is made by a few families or the process is supported by the government and international bodies.

But the fact that solar energy system can be installed with one-time investment and there is no need of maintenance or operating expenses.

“While the World Bank and Asian Development Bank are allocating funds for solar technologies, the local banks do not come forward to support the sector. The AEDB will keep on creating high hopes but actually it is doing nothing,” said an expert.

A project, launched by the UN environment programme in 2003 in the Indian State of Karnataka, facilitated over 18,000 loans for solar panels over three years. UNEP recruited two popular banks to take part in the project as part of their ‘priority sector lending’ obligation and it subsidised the loans to help decrease the interest rate. The UNEP plans to initiate similar projects in other countries but not in Pakistan.

The government needs to provide tax holidays and grants to selected villages, schools, mosques and offices, some resource risk coverage, competitive tariff for solar energy and guaranteed purchase agreements from producers.

President Zardari recently asked the concerned bodies to shift Presidency to solar power on the pattern of Planning Commission and Pakistan Engineering Counci. He also advised that one town be converted to solar energy each year; all new development schemes should have solar street lights and solar cookers. Use of water heaters and water pumps should be encouraged, he said.

According to a report in the Guardian recently, Greece may allow Germany to develop about 20,000 hectares of solar power parks for exporting renewable energy to Germany.

…………….

Original text of the article

Utilising the solar energy

By Tahir Ali

In the wake of apparent government’s failure to utilise the huge hydro power potential and hit worst by the ever increasing load-shedding and power tariff, quite a few people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are turning towards solar energy and the sales of solar panels in the province is on the rise.

Particularly, the tribal belt, where there is less pollution and so high intensity sun-rays produce powerful energy, the sales are going up enormously.

Wakeel Ahmad, a Peshawar based dealer of solar technology, said people are turning to solar technology as load-shedding/costliness of power and the rising maintenance and operation expenditures of generators has left them with no other option. Nazir Ahmad, a Swabi based dealer, said hundreds of solar energy systems are sold in the area.

“Solar lamps have been installed near Peshawar bus stand and these are likely to be installed on streets and roads in the city very soon. Individuals are also coming in great numbers,” he said.

“Solar technology is sold in watts at Rs250 per watt with 20 years warranty. A normal household with daily consumption of 1000watt would thus have to spend Rs250,000. The family could also buy a solar panel only at Rs40, 000 to charge its electricity based un-interrupted power supply systems to use the power later in their homes,” he added.

A Wapda official, based in Dir, said people in the difficult terrain of the district have installed even imported solar systems which has brought revolution in their lives and agriculture.

Over a million tube wells in Pakistan are eating up billions in power subsidy and consuming an estimated 1000-1500MW of power, straining the weak national grid.

According to Ahmad, a solar tube-well with 20 years guarantee could be had by onetime investment of Rs0.9mn which pumps water non-stop from sunrise to sunset for irrigation. Solar pumps could fulfil the daily water requirements of small to medium size fish farms and communities as well. These could pump water from a depth of up to 1000 feet, according to a report.

Pakistan receives high levels of solar radiation throughout the year- around 1000 watts per square meter for most parts of the year. Mr Arif Allauddin, chief executive officer of AEDB said recently said that 2.9mn MW could be produced through tapping solar energy in Pakistan.

But Pakistan has failed to utilise solar power though it has opted to invest heavily in the oil-run power plants.

The AEDB has signed several solar energy MoUs or contracts with different agencies for widespread use of off-grid solar technologies in Pakistan through public and private sector and for dissemination of solar energy and setting up local Solar PV manufacturing facilities.

However, the high cost of solar system installation, public unawareness and banks’ reluctance to lend to investors was further hurting potential projects, however, are keeping the technologies from dissemination.

Failure to establish local solar energy manufacturing units in the country has also made it comparatively costlier.

And several government companies -AEDB, Pakistan council for renewable technologies etc-dealing with the sector and the lengthy process of approval of solar energy projects inhibit investors.

Non-seriousness of authorities can be judged from the fact that AEDB has yet to issue the new updated alternate energy policy. The present policy was drafted in December 2006.

The technology is deemed costly and unaffordable for one person, but is considered within the reach when combined investment is made by a few families or the process is supported by the government and international bodies.

But the fact that solar energy system can be installed with one time investment and then there is no maintenance or operating expenses, those who can afford it are coming towards the technology in great numbers, Ahmad opined.

“While the World Bank or Asian Development Bank are allocating funds for solar technologies, the local banks do not come forward support the sector. AEDB will keep on creating high hopes but actually it is doing nothing,” said an expert.

A project, launched by the UN environment programme in 2003 in the Indian state of Karnataka, facilitated over 18,000 loans for solar panels over three years. UNEP recruited two popular banks to take part in the project as part of their ‘priority sector lending’ obligation and it subsidized the loans to help decrease the interest rate. The UNEP plans to initiate similar projects in other countries but Pakistan is not included.

The government must provide incentives such as tax holidays, grants to the selected villages, schools, mosques and offices, some resource risk coverage, competitive tariff for solar energy and guaranteed purchase agreements from producers and the like.

President Zardari recently asked the concerned bodies to shift Presidency to solar power on the pattern of planning commission and Pakistan engineering council, being financed by Japan. He also advised that one town be converted to solar energy each year, all new development schemes should have solar street lights and solar cookers, heat pumps, water heaters and water pumps be encouraged.

According to a report in the Guardian recently, Greece plans to sell its sun to Germany which plans to develop about 20,000 hectares of solar power parks for exporting renewable energy to Germany. And Greece, facing a default after it secured £97bn in rescue funds, hopes solar energy can help it out of its debt crisis.

Germany is the global leader in solar energy but it has a lot less sun than Greece. After Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster, German government has decided to close its nuclear reactors by 2022.

Agriculture research low in priorities

                   Stuck in time
Agriculture research remains low on the priority list of
the authorities concerned
By Tahir Ali

http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/oct2011-weekly/nos-09-10-2011/pol1.htm#2

Agriculture research in Pakistan in general and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in particular is being undermined by scant funds, negligence by the government and private sector, and some procedural hitches.

Agriculture research expenditure in Pakistan is just 0.3 percent of its gross domestic product while it is 2, 0.5 and 0.4 percent in Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh respectively. In 2002, research expenditure in China and India was $2.6bn and $1.4bn but it was only $0.17bn in Pakistan. It is much less than the average international expenditure of $10bn for that period. And this meagre allocation too is on the decline for many years in actual terms.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, agriculture research has received only Rs0.24bn while livestock research Rs0.27bn, just around 0.3 per cent of this year total ADP of Rs 85bn. And almost 90 percent of this meagre amount is consumed by establishment/operation and management expenses while expenditure on operational research is restricted from 3 to 10 percent.

In terms of expenditure per research scientist too, Pakistan just spends $0.05mn on its each scientist while Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh spend around $0.35mn, $0.1mn and $0.09mn in this head. For a population of one million, United Kingdom has 1400, the United States has around 2400, India has 64 but Pakistan has only 44 scientists. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with around 25mn population has only five PhDs for this number.

Institutional autonomy and increased flexibility with accountability for research institutes, robust role for private sector, special focus on small-scale farmers and marginal areas, conservation of the natural resources and ecosystems, recruitment of scientists/workers on merit, career structure for scientists, review of mandate of institutions and their rationalization, mechanism to constantly consult the relevant stakeholders for setting up research agenda,  establishment of research coordination fund, operational funds for research-extension linkage and endowment fund for agriculture research and development are some of the steps needed to be taken.

There is an acute shortage of research personnel in the provincial agriculture research directorate. The shortage of senior researchers is particularly serious which, according to an official of the ministry of agriculture, can be disastrous for the directorate, agriculture and for the people in the province.

“Many researchers are performing their duties under compulsion but waste no time when they get an offer from private companies which pay them hefty amounts. Most of the officers are performing their duties in the same scales for the last 30 years despite being qualified,” said the official, on the condition of anonymity.

He said while the researchers at the Pakistan agriculture research council get regular opportunities for promotion, the ones in the province retire in their initial grades despite being as much qualified.

Links between universities and agricultural research institutes and farmers and extension agencies improve performance. But there is still huge room for better coordination between universities, research institutes, and farmers’ and non governmental organisations.

Agricultural education and research is controlled by agriculture universities worldwide. But these were looked after by the KP government till 1986 and then under the USAID funded project for transformation and integration of provincial agricultural network (TIPAN), these were handed over to the Agricultural University Peshawar as agriculture research system (ARS). But in 2006, it has been again given to the government department.

The decision has, experts say, has deprived the research sector and agriculture of plentiful financial resources, technical and material support and close liaison with foreign universities and other research bodies available to university-supervised ARS in the province.

According to Muhammad Khalid, an agriculture expert, the ARS worked pretty well before it was disbanded. “1980s was the golden period for agriculture development as funds, transport, equipments, machinery and foreign trainings were available for research. Most of the technologies being cherished by the province were built then. The research sector should be given back to Agriculture University and the entire extension directorate be left at its disposal to help it transfer the technology to farmers,” he said.

“Scientists respect their teachers and thus coordination would be better and work speedier. Again, it will minimise corruption in project formulation and implementation as university professors and technocrats are usually honest. Universities also have close collaboration with foreign universities and, therefore, get research grants, projects, and technology more for their good reputation and credibility than the government/department which are suspected by international aid agencies. This cannot be denied at least for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where out of a total of Rs16bn of foreign funded projects in the ADP, there is no single project for agriculture,” Khalid argued.

This is due for another reason. Provinces account for 50 percent of agriculture scientists but 18 percent of PhDs against agriculture universities which account for 23 percent agriculture scientists without PhD and 50 percent with PhD. Out of 350 Punjab’s agriculture PhDs, around 270 are from universities while around 90 percent in Sindh are from universities. There are around 130 agricultural scientists having doctor of philosophy in one or the other disciplines of agriculture. Of these, 90 are working in the agriculture university Peshawar while the rest are at institutes.

Twenty five new varieties of different crops, fruits and vegetables were developed during year 2003 while 17 during year 2004 but in subsequent years the pace of development remained sluggish on these fronts.

When another official was asked had that trend subsided after the 2006 decision, he, wishing anonymity, claimed research work had continued and new seeds and technologies had been introduced but also conceded that financial resources at the disposal of researchers had considerably decreased, impacting research work and even maintenance of the precious machinery and technology obtained during the TIPAN had become a major headache for the sector.

The earlier official, however, said rather than association with universities, it is commitment, leadership and internal working of the people in it that matter most.

“ARS, no doubt expedited work, improved fund availability and performance of the sector. But the research staff of the department was not dealt at par with their research fellows in universities. We were neglected in foreign training, education and other benefits as professors had the upper hand in decisions. The reason, thereof, was that the merger was not complete but half in nature for opposition in provincial assembly. So, administratively the department was given to university but for financial needs it was dependent upon the government,” an official said.

However, he conditionally endorsed the handing over of agriculture and its related sector to university. “There should be complete merger. The department officials should be given opportunities for promotion, education and better grades like those available to university professors. If this is ensured, there cannot be any better mechanism for agricultural development,” he said.

National and provincial agriculture research system in Pakistan is multi-departmental like agriculture research institutes Tarnab or single commodity oriented ones like cereal crops research institute, Pirsabak. In all there are six federal and 13 provincial research institutes which are assisted in research work by 13 agriculture/veterinary sciences universities.

The now defunct federal ministry of food and agriculture and that of science and technology and Pakistan atomic energy commission each have four agriculture research establishments while water and power development authority had two such bodies.

 

Non-payment of NHP arrears to KP

Non-payment of KP’s hydro profit

Realising that Wapda was too weak financially and reluctant to provide the money, KP has focused on the federal government, being guarantor of the AT award. – File photo

An all-party conference held in Peshawar recently has urged the federal government to pay the net hydro-profit arrears owed by the Water and Power Development Authority to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at the earliest.

Expressing concern over the capping of the profit at Rs6 billion, the conference backed the provincial government in its efforts to get the arrears.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had recently asked the federal finance secretary to sit with his KP counterpart to sort out the matter.

The Arbitration Tribunal (AT), headed by Justice Ajmal Mian, had decreed that the Wapda would pay Rs110 billion profit arrears in equal installments of Rs25 billion to KP in July each year. Last year, the federal government paid Rs25bn but it has released only Rs4.6bn so far this year. The delay in payment of arrears has exposed the province to financial strains.

The issue has been a major irritant since the 1973 constitution took effect. In September 2008, in a meeting with a KP jirga, Gilani had formed a committee of experts to present its report within two months on the issue of capped net hydro profit (NHP) amount. However, the committee is yet to give its decision.

While participating in the committee, KP has opposed the reopening of issues already decided/settled in the AT and NFC awards.

The KP chief minister has also opposed the adjustment of NHP against federal government loans as is being suggested by some quarters.

Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel, a former KP finance minister and NFC member, says Wapda owes us around Rs300bn now.

“Apart from Rs75bn NHP arrears, Wapda owes us over Rs55bn for 10 per cent interest on the outstanding amount and Rs203bn unpaid increased NHP amount post AT award and another Rs40 billion for this year’s NHP,” he says.

Adeel laments that Wapda has capped the annual NHP at Rs6bn, deviating from A.G.N Kazi formula, unanimously endorsed by the NFC in February 1988, approved by the Council of Common Interests in January 1991 and validated by the presidential NFC order No3 of 1991. The NFC had recommended increase of 10 per cent on Rs6 billion for future years.

“While Punjab is being paid Rs5bn for 100MW of electricity produced at the Ghazi Barotha power project, KP is given Rs6bn for 4,000MW produced by it, while power tariff has also been increased manifold since then,” he adds.

Wapda, however, proposed Rs72bn against Rs83bn already paid, thus claiming Rs10.9bn as overpayment to KP while maintaining that surcharges of Rs829bn and other revenues of Rs195bn could not be used for NHP determination. It also stubbornly rejected as unconstitutional the Kazi formula.

Realising that Wapda was too weak financially and reluctant to provide the money, KP has focused on the federal government, being guarantor of the AT award.

Based on the NFC award, the AT award was binding on all parties. But Wapda challenged it in a civil court. Feeling betrayed, KP also went to the Supreme Court against this move where the case is still pending.

Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao says: “Arbitration was unnecessary in the matter. The NHP was/is the constitutional right that was accepted by A.G. N. Kazi Commission established in 1987, also by the Council of Common Interest and guaranteed by the constitutional provisions; no federal government could deny net hydro profit to the province. The KP government must stick to the Kazi formula. But we would also like to know as to what has happened to the Hydro Development Fund and the money provided thus far,” he adds.

“”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Original text of the article

The Net Hydel Profit dispute between KP and WAPDA/federal govt

By Tahir Ali

An all parties’ conference in Peshawar recently called upon the federal government to pay to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa its net hydel profit (NHP) arrears the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) owes to it as soon as possible. The conference also expressed concern over capping of NHP at Rs6 billion and resolved to back the KP government in its endeavours to get NHP arrears.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa intends to take up the issue forcefully in coming days. Prime Minister Gilani recently asked the federal finance secretary to sit with his KP counterpart to sort out the matter.

The Arbitration Tribunal (AT) headed by Justice Ajmal Mian had decreed that WAPDA would pay Rs110bn NHP arrears in equal instalments of Rs25 billion on July each year.  Last year, the federal government paid Rs25bn but it has released only Rs4.6bn till date and intends to release the amount in bits and pieces. KP abhors this scenario as it has projected the money in its revenue estimates and the denial or delaying of the amount could expose the province to financial problems.

The issue has been a major irritant since 1973 when the present constitution took effect. In September 2008, in a meeting with a KP jirga, Gilani had formed a committee of experts to present its report within two months on the issues of capped NHP amount, NHP up to 2004-05 and from 2005-06  onwards along with mark up but the committee is yet to give its decision.

KP finance ministry’s white paper says while participating in the committee, KP shall not accept reopening of issues already decided/settled, that any settlement must conform to the parameters of AT and NFC awards, and that calculation of NHP shall be in accordance with AGN Qazi formula (QF).

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister wants the NHP amount in cash and would not accept its adjustment against federal government loans as is being suggested by some quarters.

Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel, former KP finance minister and member of KP national finance commission (NFC) team says WAPDA owes us around Rs300bn now. “Apart from Rs75bn NHP arrears, as per QF and AT award, WAPDA owes us over Rs55bn for 10 per cent interest on the outstanding amount and Rs203bn for due but unpaid increased NHP amount post AT award and another Rs40 billion as this year’s NHP,” he says.

Adeel laments that WAPDA has capped the annual NHP at Rs6bn against the dictates of QF that had been unanimously endorsed by NFC meeting in February 1988, approved by Council of Common Interests in January 1991 and validated by presidential NFC order No3 of 1991. The NFC had recommended increase of 10 per cent on Rs6 billion for future years.

“While Punjab is being paid Rs5bn for around 100MW of electricity produced at Ghazi Barotha power project, KP is given Rs6bn despite the fact that it produces around 4000MW and power tariff  has been increased manifold since then,” he adds.

The AT had agreed with QF for calculating NHP for 1991-92 but did not apply the QF mechanism for the years onward and rather adhered to a mechanism of compound indexation of 10% per year in NHP using Rs6.9bn as benchmark which was calculated on the basis of QF by WAPDA for 1991- the year prior to restructuring and also when no surcharges and additional surcharges were levied.

In the AT, the then MMA government had claimed Rs595 billion from 1991-2005 but it had abandoned NHP demand from 1973 to 1991 as well as interest on the amount WAPDA owed to KP. It further demanded the revenues should include all the revenues paid by the consumers, including surcharge and additional surcharges.

WAPDA however proposed Rs72bn against Rs83bn already paid, thus claiming Rs10.9bn as overpayment to KP and said that surcharges of Rs829bn and other revenues of Rs195bn could not be used for NHP determination. It also stubbornly rejected as unconstitutional the QF.

KP, realising that WAPDA is too weak financially or reluctant to provide the money, has focussed on the federal government being guarantor of the AT award.

Based on the NFC award, AT award was binding on all parties. But WAPDA challenged the award in a civil court. Sensing betrayed, KP also went to the Supreme Court against this move where the case is still pending.

Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, an opposition politician in the province, says the same coalition at the centre and province should have no problem in increasing annual NHP, giving the province its arrears along with mark up for the entire period. But in case they fail to do so, ANP should come out of the federal government.

“Arbitration was unnecessary in the matter. NHP was/is the constitutional right that was accepted by AG N Qazi commission, established in 1987 by CCI and guaranteed by constitutional provisions and no government could have denied NHP to the province. However KP government must stick to the QF. But we would also like to know as to what happened to the Hydel Development Fund and the money provided thus far,” he adds.

Biogas plants to meet fuel, energy shortage

Focus on biogas plants

Over 4,000 biogas plants were installed between 1974 and 1987. But with the withdrawal of official financial support, the pace was slowed down and since then only 6,000 plants were installed till 2006. – File photo

To meet the domestic fuel and bio-fertiliser needs, 3,680 biogas plants are planned to be set up in rural areas by June 2012, according to Pakistan Centre for Renewable Technologies.

The Centre says that over 2,100 family-size biogas plants — against the target of 2,500 — have already been set up throughout the country.

The programme, supported by NGOs, farmers’ bodies and the rural support programme netwok, is being implemented by Pakistan Biogas Development Enterprise.

The construction of 30,000 biogas installations planned for next four years will be funded by the four provinces including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with an investment of Rs2.7 billion. A sum of Rs244 million will be disbursed as investment rebate support to households.

Often animal waste is usually not used productively. In Landhi alone, a suburb of Karachi city, around 0.35 million cattle heads are kept in a three kilometre area that produces thousands of tons of waste but 80-90 per cent of it is thrown into the sea. A Canadian firm Highmark Renewables and the KESC jointly intend to set up a biogas plant at a cost of around $70 million which would produce 30 megawatts of electricity besides 400 tons of residue bio-fertiliser.

The biogas plants will considerably decrease the domestic fuel cost. Moreover, biogas will contribute towards environment protection, sustenance of ecosystem and conservation of biodiversity.

According to PCRT gas produced in a small bio-digester which contains about 20 kg dung should be enough to meet the fuel needs of a small family. A bio-digester for any number of animals can be designed. However, the plant must be water/gas-tight and enough manure and water should be added to it every day.

Biogas plants are fairly popular worldwide. There are almost two million biogas plants in India and the facilities have been built even in the United Kingdom and the US through official patronage. Around 89 such plants in the US are consuming 13 per cent or 95,000 tons of waste to produce about 25,000 megawatt of electricity that is sufficient for 2.3 million households.’

There is a huge potential for production of biogas in the country. There are currently around 47 million big animals in Pakistan. Even if 50 per cent of their drop is collected, availability of fresh dung comes to 233 million kg a day that can produce around 12 million cubic meters of biogas per day. The fuel requirement of over 20 per cent of the population could be met only from biogas. It will also produce 19 million tons of bio-fertiliser per year.

Around 70 per cent of population in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa lives in rural areas. Most farmers have two or more cattle head whose dung mixed with an equal quantity of water can be used to produce biogas. Any farmer having at least three animals can set up this plant with a one-time investment of Rs40,000 —50,000.

If individual farmers cannot afford the cost, a few families with domestic animals could jointly install such a plant in their neighbourhood. And by selling the gas to families that do not contribute manure for having no animals, the maintenance expenditure, if any, could be financed with this money.

Over 4,000 biogas plants were installed between 1974 and 1987. But with the withdrawal of official financial support, the pace was slowed down and since then only 6,000 plants were installed till 2006. Firewood, dung and crop residues are major sources of energy for rural and low-income urban households. In 1992, firewood provided fuel to about 60 per cent such households followed by dung in dry form at around 18 per cent. To save deforestation, biogas gas is a viable alternative.

***********************************************************

After a few mistakes were spotted in the above printed version of the article, the original text of the article is hereby reproduced.

Biogas plants to reduce deforestation and domestic fuel budget

By Tahir Ali

Under the project “development and promotion of biogas technology for meeting domestic fuel needs of rural areas and production of bio-fertilizer”, the Pakistan centre for renewable energy technologies (Pcret) plans to install 368 biogas plants in rural areas by June 2012.

Launched in 2008 with a target of 2500 such plants, Pcret has already installed over 2100 family size biogas plants in different parts of the country.

Earlier, based on a feasibility study, a programme implementation plan for domestic biogas of Pakistan was finalised with the support of rural support programmes network, NGOs and farmers organisations and is implemented by Pakistan biogas development enterprise. Though it, the construction of 30,000 biogas installations in 4 years will be supported in four provinces including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with a total investment of Rs2.7bn. Rs244mn would be disbursed as investment rebate support to the households who spend on the technology.

However, the potential is too enormous to be satisfied with this number. Animal waste is usually wasted (see picture). In Landhi Karachi alone, around 0.35mn cattle-heads are kept in a 3km area that produce thousands of tons of waste but 80-90 of it is thrown in the sea. A Canadian firm Highmark Renewables with the help of KESC plans to establish world’s biggest biogas plant at a cost of around $70 million that would produce up to 30 mega watt of power and 400 tons of residue bio fertiliser.

With inflation and energy shortage and costliness aggravating with each passing day in the country, biogas plants could considerably decrease the domestic fuel budget and lessen burden on national power grid. Moreover, biogas will also contribute towards environment protection, sustenance of ecosystem and conservation of biodiversity.

According to a Pcret report, a family size biogas plant annually 10056Kg wood or 22200 Kg animal dung or 1104 lit kerosene oil or 540 kg L.P.G or 9000 Kwh of electricity.

Gas produced in a small bio-digester which contains about 20 kg of dung should be enough to meet the fuel requirement of a small family. Based on these calculations, a bio-digester for any number of animals can be designed.  However, the plant must be water/gas-tight. Enough manure and water must be added to it every day.

Biogas plants are fairly popular in Pakistan’s neighbourhood and even developed countries. There are almost two million bio-gas plants in India and the facilities have been built even in UK and USA through official patronage. Around 89 such plants in the US are consuming 13 per cent or 95000 tons of waste to produce about 2500 mega watt of electricity that suffices for 2.3mn households.’

Despite its simplicity and huge potential, the production of biogas has not been given due attention in Pakistan. There are currently around 47 million big animals in Pakistan. A medium size animal drops around 10 kg of dung per day. Even if its 50 percent is collected, the availability of fresh dung comes to 233 million kg a day that can produce around 12 million cubic meters of biogas a day. Since 0.4m gas could suffice the cooking needs of a million Pakistanis, the fuel requirement of over 20 percent of them could be met only from biogas. It will also produce 19 million tons of bio-fertilizer per year, which can boost agricultural productivity.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa too, despite having one million camels, 6mn cattle, 2mn buffaloes and over 12mn sheep and goats, has failed to utilise the waste of these animals to produce biogas which can be used for cooking and power generation and its residue could be used as fertiliser and which has the potential to reduce both the fuel bill and deforestation in the country.

In the cattle breeding and dairy farm in Charsadda, a bio gas plant has been in operation but the innovative technology has not been disseminated on mass scale in the province.

It seems strange as to why to reduce the speed and scale of deforestation especially in the forest-rich Malakand and Hazara divisions, biogas plants have not been installed or the attention of the locals not drawn towards this enormously fruitful and cheap source of energy so far.

Around 70 percent population in the province lives in the rural areas. Most farmers have two or more cattle whose dung mixed with an equal proportion of water can be used to produce biogas. Any farmer having at least three animals can establish this plant with a one-time investment of Rs40,000 to 50,000.

If individual farmers are not ready or cannot afford the expenses, a few families with domestic animals could jointly install such a plant in their neighbourhood. And by selling the gas to families that cannot contribute manure daily for having no animals, the maintenance expenditure, if any, could be financed with this money.

The government needs to announce more attention and funds to spread this technology to countryside. Media should create awareness among the rural community and NGOs and foreign investors should be encouraged to spread it.

Over 4000 biogas plants were installed in Pakistan by the government between 1974 and 1987. But later it withdrew the financial support which reduced the growth rate of this technology and only 6,000 plants were installed till 2006 since then.

A typical biogas plant consists of a digester where the anaerobic fermentation takes place, a gasholder for collecting the biogas, the input-output units for feeding the influent and storing the effluent respectively, and a gas distribution system.

Firewood, dung and crop residues are major sources of energy for rural and low-income urban households. In 1992, firewood provided fuel to at about 60% of rural and low income families followed by dung in dry form at around 18%.

Only 4% of Pakistan’s total area is covered by forest with only 5% area protected. To control reforestation adoption of biogas is a best technology in Pakistan.

 

 

Share

review of Eralp

Map showing the location of Swat District (hig...

Swat where Eralp is being implemented

Lag in agriculture recovery
By Tahir Ali

BECAUSE of slow utilisation of funds, the Rs800 million project for early recovery of agriculture and livestock in Swat and Upper Dir has been extended for another year up to March 2012.To utilise the rest of the Rs500 million fund and to extend the project to the Malakand division, the provincial Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Settlement Authority (Parrsa) has committed another Rs200 million.

The project has received a mixed response from officials and farmers. While the project director Sanaullah Khan and some farmers from Swat were all praise for it, others criticised the alleged favouritism in choosing target areas and distribution of agricultural inputs etc. The project is financed by Italian government.

Mr Khan said: “Restoration and enhancement of agriculture and livestock in the area, formation and revival of the 127 male and 24 female organisations in villages, community empowerment, establishment of linkage between communities and government/service providers are the achievements of Eralp. Besides, capacity building of stake holders and development of private nurseries, fish farming and diversification of livelihood options are some of the notable achievements of the project so far,” he said.

“Swat farmers harvest wheat crops during July. According to a survey in 27 of the 32 UCs in the area, per hectare yield has jumped by 266 per cent to four tons per hectare from 1.5 tons/ha in 2009. Quality inputs were provided to farmers in appropriate quantities at proper time besides provision of technical guidance,” he said.

The Eralp during last year distributed 63 tons of maize, 24 tons of peas, 235 tons of wheat, 640 tons of onion and around 10 tons of pulses seeds along with fertiliser among growers. Another 51 tons of DAP and 436 tons of urea were also provided to them. About 0.296mn plants out of the target of 0.4mn were distributed to establish new orchards. And 10 poultry farms were set up and around 5,500 poultry units were provided to poor households in 32 union councils of Charbagh, Kabal, Khwazakhela and Matta tehsils of Swat and Dokdarra UC in Upper Dir.

In the livestock sector, against the 13,000 animal vaccination target, 48,000 were vaccinated. In the forestry sector, the target of 2.1 million plants reforestation has been crossed. Top working on 0.1mn olive trees against the target of 0.2mn was done. Block tree plantation has been done at 2,200 hectares against the target of 1,500 hectares.

About 25 farmers’ field schools are being constructed and 156 agriculture and 177 livestock extension workers were trained.

Out of a plantation target of 7,305 hectares in Swat, 5450 hectares have been achieved. Work on four trout fish farms worth Rs1.92mn has been completed or is in progress. On seven spurs work is complete and on others it is under progress. Work on 60 water channels worth Rs58.35mn is either completed, or is awaiting approval, it adds.

In the next phase, 10,000 hand compression sprayers and 500 power sprayers would be provided to farmers. Similarly, 10 biogas plants would be installed and 20 private fish farms opened in the area.

Khan claimed that short duration of the project, 2010 floods, insufficient availability of certified seeds, and restricted
movement of project staff were some of snags in the implementation of the project.

Abdul Jabbar Khan, president of association for protection of farmers and tillers’ rights district Swat, said farmers in the area had been devastated by militancy and floods and therefore needed support. “But what the Eralp offered was peanuts,” he says.

“Most of the work was done on the basis of nepotism and favouritism. For example out of 13 UCs in Matta, work was done only in two UCs -Sambhat and Arkuk- while the other areas stood totally neglected,” he adds.

As to allegations of nepotism and favouritism, Mr Sanaullah rejected them and said uniformity of coverage had been ensured in the project area.

Mr Jabbar rejected the project’s figures for wheat and said floods, non-availability and cost of inputs had in fact decreased wheat yield in the area.

“There is a need to establish genuine VOs and to allocate more money for reconstruction of the destroyed agriculture, irrigation and communication infrastructure and rehabilitation of farmers,” said Sahib Zaman, another farmer from Matta
Swat.

The upper Swat areas like Kalam, Uthror etc and other districts in Malakand division have been totally neglected. It seems some easily accessible areas have been focused at the cost of others. Sanaullah said that Eralp was working in the predefined
area as agreed with the donors at the designing stage.

“The Upper Swat area and other districts of Malakand Division were out of the project’s sphere that is why there were no project activities there. But if the donors/government provided us the requisite funds, the project could be extended.

Happily, the promised Rs200million would be utilised for the purpose,” an official said.

””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””’

Here is the original text of the article as it was sent to the paper.

Analysis of one year working of Eralp

By Tahir Ali

On the back of low utilisation of funds during the stipulated time and in realisation of its positive impact upon lives of farmers, the Rs800 million Italian government funded early recovery of agriculture and livestock project (Eralp) being implemented in of Swat by the provincial rehabilitation, reconstruction and settlement authority (PaRRSA) has been extended for another year and the project amount is being increased.

To spend the remaining Rs500mn project money and considering its progress, Eralp that was to finish by March this year, has been granted one year extension till March 2012 and PaRRSA has committed Rs200mn to spread its coverage to the entire Malakand division, sources said.

For the first year of Eralp, officials and farmers in the area have different claims on its effectiveness. While Sanaullah Khan, the project director, and Tariq Khan and Sher Bahadur, farmers from Swat, were all praise for the project, other farmers were critical of alleged nepotism and favouritism in the process of determination of target areas and the distribution of agricultural inputs and other benefits under the project.

Mr Khan said: “Restoration and enhancement of agriculture and livestock in the area, formation/revival of the 127 village male and 24 women organizations in the area, community empowerment, establishment of linkage between communities and government/service providers, capacity building of the stake holders, sense of ownership, accountability and transparency, environmental development through block community plantation/soil conservation and development of private nurseries, fish farming and diversification of livelihood options are some of the notable Eralp achievements thus far,” he said.

“Swat farmers harvest their wheat crops during July. According to a survey in 27 off 32 UCs in the area, per hectare yield has jumped by 266 per cent to 4 tons/ha from 1.5 tons/ha in 2009. This was inevitable as quality inputs were provided to farmers in appropriate quantities at proper time besides provision of technical guidance,” he stressed.

Official brief on the performance of Eralp during last year, says 63 tons of maize, 24 tons of peas, 235 tons of wheat, 640 tons of onion and around 10 tons of pulses seeds were distributed along with fertilizer. Separately, another 51 tons of DAP and 436 tons of urea were also provided to farmers. About 0.296mn plants out of the target of 0.4mn were also distributed to establish new orchards. And 10 poultry farms were established and around 5500 poultry units of chicks were provided to poor households in 32 union councils of Charbagh, Kabal, Khwazakhela and Matta tehsils of Swat and Dokdarra UC in Upper Dir.

In the livestock sector, against the 13000 animal vaccination target, 48000 were vaccinated. In the forestry sector, the target of 2.1 million plants reforestation has been crossed. Top working on 0.1mn olive trees against the target of 0.2mn was done. Block tree plantation has been done at 2200 hectares against the target of 1500 hectares.

25 farmers’ field schools are being constructed and 156 agriculture and 177 livestock extension workers were trained. 3 out of 20 private fish farms have been established and support to 2 fish farms out of 4 has been provided.

In the next phase, 10,000 hand compression sprayers and 500 power sprayers would be provided to farmers. Similarly, 10 biogas plants would be installed and 20 private fish farms opened in the area. And animal feed of around 3000 tons and over 40,000 molasses blocks would also be distributed, the documents reads.

“Out of a Swat plantation target of 7305 hectares, 5450 has been achieved. Work on 4 trout fish farms worth Rs1.92mn has been completed or is in progress. And work on 7 spurs has been completed, is in progress on 4 and on 16 the sanction is awaited. Again, work on 60 water channels worth Rs58.35mn is either completed, in progress or awaiting nod, it adds.

Khan agreed that short duration of the project, 2010 floods, insufficient availability of certified seeds, and restricted movement of project staff were some of the problems of the project.

Abdul Jabbar Khan, president of association for protection of farmers and tillers’ rights district Swat, said farmers in the area had been devastated by militancy and floods and therefore needed support.

“But what the Eralp offered was peanuts. What impact could the delivery of a package comprising two/three bags of fertiliser, 50 kg of seed and some other items to a small number of farmers have on the recovery of agriculture in the area which has hundreds of thousands of growers,” he says.

“But even these inputs were also not given to genuine farmers as no real farmers or village organisations were formed. My area still has none. Most of the work was done on the basis of nepotism and favouritism only in two UCs -Sambhat and Arkuk- off 13 UCs in Matta and other areas stand totally neglected,” he adds.

Mr Jabbar rejected the project’s figures for wheat and said floods and non availability and costliness of inputs had in fact decreased wheat yield in the areas.

Mr Sanaullah said Eralp adhered to its claim of increased outputs: “Since the project approach is participatory, these activities can be cross-checked with the 151 VOs/WOs as these VOs along with government line departments are partners in the project”.

“There is a need to establish genuine VOs and to allocate more money for reconstruction of the destroyed agriculture, irrigation and communication infrastructure and rehabilitation of farmers,” said Sahib Zaman, another farmer from Matta Swat.

As to allegations of nepotism and favouritism, Mr Sanaullah rejected them as baseless and said that decision on appointments, determination of areas, distribution of inputs and other project activities were taken strictly on merit by a broad based committee (comprising donors, establishment department and PaRRSA) as per government policy of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The upper Swat areas like Kalam, Uthror etc and other districts in Malakand division have been totally neglected. It seems some easily accessible areas have been focused at the cost of others. Sanaullah, however, said Eralp was working in the predefined area as agreed with the donors at the designing stage and uniformity of coverage had been ensured in the project area.

“The Upper Swat area and other districts of Malakand Division were out of the project’s sphere, so there were no project activities there. But if the donors/government provided us the requisite funds, the project could be extended. Happily, the promised Rs200mn would be utilised for the purpose,” an official said.

Unfair Net hydel profit share

Water and Power Development Authority

Water and power development authority

 share

Steps should be taken to ensure actual amount of hydel profits to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

By Tahir Ali

http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/sep2011-weekly/nos-18-09-2011/pol1.htm#5

The debate on the net hydel profit (NHP) arrears the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) owes to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has resurfaced with an all parties’ conference in Peshawar, unanimously calling upon the federal government to pay the NHP arrears of Rs258 billion as soon as possible.

Held under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti and attended by all major political parties within or without the assemblies, the conference expressed concern over capping of NHP at Rs6 billion and resolved to back the KP government in its NHP endeavours.

Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel, former finance minister and member of KP national finance commission (NFC) team, laments that WAPDA has capped the annual NHP at Rs6bn against the dictates of AGN Qazi formula (QF), which was unanimously endorsed by NFC meeting in February 1988, approved by Council of Common Interests in January 1991 and validated by presidential NFC order No3 of 1991. The NFC had recommended increase of 10 percent on Rs6 billion for future years. He says as per KP’s calculation based on the QF, its annual NHP for 2010-11 stands at Rs40bn against Rs6bn.

“While Punjab is being paid Rs5bn for around 100MW of electricity produced at Ghazi Barotha power project, KP is given Rs6bn despite the fact that it produces around 4000MW and power tariff has been increased manifold since then,” he says.

Besides the fact that Rs6bn was determined based on power tariffs of 1987 at the rate of Rs0.33 per unit, in dollar terms in 1991, Rs6bn equaled $200 million. Now it can fetch around $70 million with the current rate of return.

The Arbitration Tribunal (AT) headed by Justice Ajmal Mian had agreed to QF for calculating NHP for 1991-92 but did not apply the QF mechanism for the years onward and rather adhered to a mechanism of compound indexation of 10 percent per year in NHP, using Rs6.9bn as benchmark which was calculated on the basis of QF by WAPDA for 1991. While the provincial conference projected the arrears at Rs258bn,

Adeel says it is around Rs300bn now. “Apart from Rs75bn NHP arrears (the AT decreed it at Rs110bn but Rs35bn have been paid to the province till now), as per QF and AT award, WAPDA owes us over Rs55bn for 10 percent interest on the outstanding amount and Rs203bn for due but unpaid increased NHP amount post AT award and another Rs40 billion as this year’s NHP,” he says.

Had that period and amount also been included, KP’s outstanding amount against WAPDA would have been much more than at present. It further claimed that according to the QF, the revenues should include all the revenues paid by the consumers, including surcharge and additional surcharges.

WAPDA, however, proposed Rs72bn against Rs83bn already paid, thus claiming Rs10.9bn as overpayment to KP and said that surcharges of Rs829bn and other revenues of Rs195bn could not be used for NHP determination. It also stubbornly rejected as unconstitutional the QF.

KP, realising that WAPDA is too weak financially or reluctant to provide the money, has focussed on the federal government being guarantor of the AT award and rightly so.

Para 3 and 4 of the Presidential NFC order No3 of 1991 states: The net profits from the bulk generation of power at the hydro-electric stations located in the provinces shall be paid by the concerned undertaking established or administered by the federal government (i.e. WAPDA) to the provinces and that the federal government shall guarantee payment of net profits to the provinces concerned by the above undertaking on a regular basis.

Based on the NFC award, AT award was binding on all parties. It had been signed by the then WAPDA chairman Tariq Hamid and secretary finance KP and endorsed by the federal secretary water and power from the federal government. But WAPDA challenged the award in a civil court. Sensing betrayed, KP also went to the Supreme Court against this move where the case is still pending.

When the present ANP-led coalition government was installed, it soon formed an all parties Jirga headed by CM Hoti that met Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in September 2008 and apprised him of their grievances on capped annual NHP and arrears.

The PM promised to solve the problems and formed a committee of experts to present its report within two months on the issues. Later in October 2009, the PM announced payment of Rs110 billion arrears on behalf of WAPDA in five annual installments to be given on July 1 each year with the promise to release first installment of Rs10 but it was paid only in December when the provincial NFC team threatened boycott of its proceedings.

The technical committee is yet to give its decision. KP finance ministry’s white paper says that while participating in the committee, KP shall not accept reopening of issues already decided/settled, that any settlement must conform to the parameters of AT and NFC awards, and that calculation of NHP shall be in accordance with QF.

Last year, the federal government paid Rs25bn simultaneously but it has released only Rs4.6bn till date and intends to release the amount in bits and pieces.

Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, president of Pakistan Peoples Party (S) says the coalition at the centre and province should have no problem in increasing annual NHP, giving the province its arrears along with mark up for the entire period. “Our party would support the government in its bid to get NHP arrears and increase the NHP annual amount as a matter of provincial right. But in case they fail to do so, ANP should come out of the federal government,” he says.

“Arbitration was unnecessary in the matter. NHP is the constitutional right that was accepted by AG N Qazi commission, established in 1987 by CCI and guaranteed by constitutional provisions and no government could have denied NHP to the province. However KP government must stick to the QF and never renege on provincial rights,” he adds.

Sub-clause 2 of Article 157 of the Constitution clearly empowers the provinces to construct power projects, levy taxes on, and fix tariff, for electricity, construct distribution and transmission lines for distribution of power and the provinces should insist on provincial management rather than the central bodies like WAPDA, Nepra and Pepco, etc, but provinces have reneged on their rights.

 

””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

Text of the article as it was sent to the paper

The Net Hydel Profit dispute between KP and WAPDA/federal govt

 

By Tahir Ali

 

The debate on the net hydel profit (NHP) arrears the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) has to pay to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa resurfaced again with an all parties’ conference in Peshawar recently calling upon the federal government to pay the due NHP arrears of Rs258 billion as soon as possible.

 

Held under the chairmanship of chief minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti and attended by all major political parties, the conference expressed concern over capping of NHP at Rs6 billion and resolved to back the KP government in its endeavours to get NHP arrears.

 

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa intends to take up the issue with the federal government forcefully in coming days and the issue, inter alia, has the potential to harm the PPP-ANP coalition if it remains unresolved.

 

The Arbitration Tribunal (AT) headed by Justice Ajmal Mian had decreed that WAPDA would pay Rs110bn NHP arrears in equal instalments of Rs25 billion.  Last year, the federal government paid Rs25bn but it has released only Rs4.6bn till date and intends to release the amount in bits and pieces. KP abhors this scenario as it has projected the money in its revenue estimates and the denial or delaying of the amount could expose the province to financial problems.

 

CM Hoti recently said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa wanted the NHP amount in cash and would not accept its adjustment against federal government loans as was being suggested.

 

Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel, former KP finance minister and member of KP national finance commission (NFC) team says WAPDA owes us around Rs300bn now. “Apart from Rs75bn NHP arrears, as per AGN Qazi formula (QF) and AT award, WAPDA owes us over Rs55bn for 10 per cent interest on the outstanding amount and Rs203bn for due but unpaid increased NHP amount post AT award and another Rs40 billion as this year’s NHP,” he says.

 

Adeel says as per KP’s calculation based on the QF, its annual NHP for 2010-11 stands at Rs40bn against Rs6bn but laments that WAPDA has capped the annual NHP at Rs6bn against the dictates of QF that had been unanimously endorsed by NFC meeting in February 1988, approved by Council of Common Interests in January 1991 and validated by presidential NFC order No3 of 1991. The NFC had recommended increase of 10 per cent on Rs6 billion for future years.

 

“While Punjab is being paid Rs5bn for around 100MW of electricity produced at Ghazi Barotha power project, KP is given Rs6bn despite the fact that it produces around 4000MW and power tariff  has been increased manifold since then,” he adds.

 

Besides, Rs6bn was determined based on power tariffs of 1987 at the rate of Rs0.33 per unit, in dollar terms in 1991, Rs6bn equalled $200 million but it comes to around $70 million with the current rate of return.

 

The AT had agreed with QF for calculating NHP for 1991-92 but did not apply the QF mechanism for the years onward and rather adhered to a mechanism of compound indexation of 10% per year in NHP using Rs6.9bn as benchmark which was calculated on the basis of QF by WAPDA for 1991- the year prior to restructuring and also when no surcharges and additional surcharges were levied.

 

In the AT, the MMA government had claimed Rs595 billion (Rs292bn principal amount and the rest mark-up) from 1991-2005 but it had abandoned NHP demand from 1973 to 1991 as well as interest on the amount WAPDA owed to KP.

 

Had that period and amount also been included, KP’s outstanding amount against WAPDA would have been much more than at present.

 

It further claimed that according to the QF, the revenues should include all the revenues paid by the consumers, including surcharge and additional surcharges.

 

WAPDA however proposed Rs72bn against Rs83bn already paid, thus claiming Rs10.9bn as overpayment to KP and said that surcharges of Rs829bn and other revenues of Rs195bn could not be used for NHP determination. It also stubbornly rejected as unconstitutional the QF.

 

KP, realising that WAPDA is too weak financially or reluctant to provide the money, has focussed on the federal government being guarantor of the AT award and rightly so.

 

Para 3 and 4 of the Presidential NFC order No3 of 1991 states: The net profits from the bulk generation of power at the hydro-electric stations located in the provinces shall be paid by the concerned undertaking established or administered by the federal government (i.e. WAPDA) to the provinces and that the federal government shall guarantee payment of net profits to the provinces concerned by the above undertaking on a regular basis.

 

Based on the NFC award, AT award was binding on all parties. It had been signed by the then WAPDA chairman Tariq Hamid and secretary finance KP and endorsed by the federal secretary water and power from the federal government. But WAPDA, showing its intransigence, challenged the award in a civil court.

 

Sensing betrayed, KP also went to the Supreme Court against this move where the case is still pending.

 

When the present ANP-led coalition government was installed, it soon formed an all parties Jirga headed by CM Hoti that met PM Gilani in September 2008 and apprised him of their grievances on capped annual NHP and arrears thereof besides mark up, and also complaining that the province was being subjected to worst load-shedding and highest electricity tariff.

 

Gilani promised to solve the problems and formed a committee of experts to present its report within two months on the issues of capped NHP amount, NHP up to 2004-05 and from 2005-06  onwards along with mark up.  Later in October 2009, PM announced payment of Rs110 billion arrears on behalf of WAPDA in five annual instalments to be given on July 1 each year with the promise to release first instalment of Rs10 but it was paid only in December when the provincial NFC team threatened boycott of its proceedings.

 

The technical committee is yet to give its decision. KP finance ministry’s white paper says while participating in the committee, KP shall not accept reopening of issues already decided/settled, that any settlement must conform to the parameters of AT and NFC awards, and that calculation of NHP shall be in accordance with QF.

 

Attempts to contact central leader of Jamaat-e-Islami Sirajul Haq, provincial president of Pakistan Muslim League-Q Amir Muqam Khan and Akram Khan Durrani, former CM KP, didn’t succeed.

 

Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, president of Pakistan Peoples Party (S) said the same coalition at the centre and province should have no problem in increasing annual NHP, giving the province its arrears along with mark up for the entire period. “Our party would support the government in its bid to get NHP arrears and increase the NHP annual amount as a matter of provincial right. But in case they fail to do so, ANP should come out of the federal government,” he said.

 

“Arbitration was unnecessary in the matter. NHP was/is the constitutional right that was accepted by AG N Qazi commission, established in 1987 by CCI and guaranteed by constitutional provisions and no government could have denied NHP to the province. However KP government must stick to the QF and never renege on provincial rights,” he added.

 

“But we would also like to know as to what happened to the Hydel Development Fund and the money provided thus far. The provincial finance commission would also be amended accordingly,” he said.

 

Sub-clause 2 of Article 157 of the constitution clearly empowers the provinces to construct power projects, levy taxes on, and fix tariff, for electricity, construct distribution and transmission lines for distribution of power and the provinces should insist on provincial management rather than the central bodies like WAPDA, Nepra and Pepco etc, but provinces have reneged on their rights.

 

WAPDA has always been reluctant to either increase the annual NHP instalment and has been delaying the payment with one pretext or the other. NHP to the province is due since 1973-74 after the constitutional provisions took effect. But no profits were paid upto 1991-92. For the first time, in March 1978, General Ziaul Haq ordered the disbursement of the profits but with no outcome. Several resolutions by KP assembly have also proved futile.

 

tahir_katlang@yahoo.com

Table 1-details of mark up

Details of outstanding mark up on NHP
   (Rs in Billion)  
· Principal Award Amount (F.Y 1991-92 to 2004-05) 110.101
· Mark-up as per Award of Arbitration Tribunal 10%
· Left over amount from Principal 0.101
· Mark-up (9.10.06 to 30.6.07) 7.993
· F.Y 2007-08 (1.7.07 to 30.6.08) 11.010
· F.Y 2008-09 (1.7.08 to 30.6.09) 11.010
· F.Y 2009-10 (1.7.09 to 16.11.09) 4.159
Sub Total 34.273
· Mark-up on Rs. 100 billion 6.170
(From 17.11.09 to 30.06.2010)  
· Mark-up on Rs. 75 billion 7.500
(From 1.7.2010 to 30.06.2011)  
· Mark-up on Rs. 50 billion 5.000
(From 01.7.2010 to 30.06.2012)  
· Mark-up on Rs. 25billion 2.500
(From 1.7.2012 to 30.06.2013)  
Sub Total 21.170
Total (Future Payable) 55.443

 

Table 2- Details of increased NHP

Year wise details of NHP with mark-up (Post Award period on Compound indexation @ 10% per-annum)
I             FY 2005-06  
           a) Provincial Claim 26.32
           b) Amount Received 6
           c) Balance Amount 20
   d) Mark up @ 10% (1.7.2006 to 30.6.2011) 10.51
          Total 30.45
   
ii          FY 2006-07  
a)  Provincial Claim 28.93
 b)  Amount Received 6
 c)  Balance amount 22.9
 d)  Mark up @ 10% (1.7.2007 to 30.6.2011) 9.7
            Total 32.1
iii         FY 2007-08  
a) Provincial Claim 31.82
b) Amount Received 6
c) Balance amount 25.82
d) Mark up @ 10% (1.7.2008 to 30.6.2011) 7.74
            Total 33.56
Iv           FY 2008-09  
a) Provincial Claim 35
b) Amount Received 6
c) Balance amount 29
d) Mark up @ 10% (1.7.2009 to 30.6.2011) 5.794
Total 34.80
v          FY 2009-10  
a) Provincial Claim 38.50
b) Amount Received 6
c) Balance amount 32.50
d) Mark up @ 10% (1.7.2010 to 30.6.2011) 3.24
Total 35.75
Vi        FY 2010-11  
a) Provincial Claim 42.35
b) Amount Received 6
c) Balance amount 36.35
Total 203.03
Grand Total along with Rs55.44 mark up 258.47

 

Unaffordable soil testing

Unaffordable soil testing

The private sector should also set up its own soil testing laboratories in farming areas to supplement the work of the public sector. – File photo

“I AM 70 and have never used the soil testing technology so far,” says Niaz Muhammad, a Swat-based farmer. “Such technologies are only for big farmers of the plains and not for the poor growers of remote areas,”
he says.

Most farmers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have remained deprived of the enormous benefits of soil testing technology due to apparent failure of the government to sponsor it in the province. Many farmers still do not know why this technology is
essential and how it is beneficial because of the limited outreach of the programme.

The reason is simple: the concerned department officials do not contact farmers at their doorsteps. The outcome is low per acre yield. Nutrient depletion and land degradation are the major factors for low agricultural productivity.

Addition of toxic and harmful substances to the soil in significant quantities contaminates it and disturbs its chemical composition. This is generally caused by application of chemical industrial wastes and excessive or inappropriate use of fertilisers and pesticides.

The soil in any country, based on its composition, has been divided into eight categories. The first has the least limitations for agricultural use and can give high yield of crop with proper management. Categories II and III have relatively more limitations for farm use and need better management. The problems are severer in category IV soil which, though capable of producing a few marginal crops, has little ability for improvement. Soils from categories V to VII are not suited to arable farming but can be used for rangeland or forestry. Soil of category VIII is barren.

Application of suitable fertiliser and pesticides to the soil, at appropriate time and in proper way and quantity increases its productivity by 30-50 per cent. The soil testing technology helps determine the kinds of chemical input the soil needs to improve its output.

“In agriculture offices in some districts and research stations on different crops – for example, the tobacco research stations, sugar/cereal crops research institutes – there are soil testing laboratories where soil samples are examined, analysed and the results conveyed to farmers suggesting the requirements of the land under their use. The growers are also helped and guided how to improve its fertility,” said an official.

“It is with the help of this technology that farmers are able to control the degradation and improve physical properties of land to increase yield and ensure prosperity for the farmers,” he added, emphasising the need to increase the number of soil testing laboratories across the province to facilitate the growers.

Sabir Ali Khan, another farmer from Swabi, says that after repeated poor yields, he had a chance to get the soil tested in a laboratory which diagnosed its deficiencies and enabled him to take measures to increase its productivity.

Farmers often opt to use or reject a particular technology on the basis of their interest, experience, the cost of the product and their financial position. They usually oppose new technologies and strategies but once their utility is established, they adopt it. But this requires expertise, contacts and sufficient strength of extension personnel, which unfortunately are lacking here.

Small farmers lack resources to approach the research and extension systems. The department with its aversion to participatory approach i.e. working together with farmers in the target area, has also left them in the lurch.

Average per hectare yield of wheat in KP is much less than the national average. In 2007-08, the national average yield per hectare was 2,585kg for the country while for KP it was 1471kg. Average sugarcane yield by progressive farmers is around 40 tons per acre while ordinary farmers still have per acre yield of around 16-20 tons. Per acre yield of maize in central Punjab has gone up to 4,600 kg, whereas it is generally between 700-1,200kg in KP.

“Soil testing laboratories should be established in all district and tehsils of the province with the use of geographical information system for assessment and mapping of soil fertility.

Soil testing laboratories had been promised at the model farm services centres in all districts but these
are yet to be provided in most of the districts.

The private sector should also set up its own soil testing laboratories in farming areas to supplement the work of the public sector.

Outlook for Maize in KP

Outlook for maize crop

The Malakand division accounts for 32 per cent of the crop in the province. – File photo

PESHAWAR: FARMERS in the Malakand division are hoping a bumper maize harvest this season in the wake of favourable weather condition and the lifting of an unannounced ban on the cultivation of the crop imposed by security forces in 2009.

The Malakand division accounts for 32 per cent of the crop in the province.

Nasrullah Khan, a progressive farmer from Buner, said “There are no more restrictions on maize cultivation. The crop remained safe from rains and winds. We are hoping to get a bumper crop in the district with per acre yield of up to 3,200kg in some areas,” he said.

Muhammad Naeem, another progressive farmer and ex-head of the Model Farm Services Centre in Swat, endorsed Khan’s views. Local farmers hope per acre yield of up to 2,000kg from farm seeds and around 2,500kg from hybrid seeds in the area, which is the norm here,” he said.

However, in low/plain areas of the province like Peshawar, Swabi and Mardan, according to farmers, maize crop was damaged first by shortage of water and rain and later by torrential rains.

However, officials rule out any damage to the crop from these factors.

Haji Niamat Shah, vice-president of Anjuman-e-Kashtkaran KP, said the most suitable time for maize cultivation in the plain areas of the province was between March and May though it can be sown till July. “But there were no rains and the supply of water was too scanty to cater to the needs of maize and sugarcane crops.

That was why the farmers didn’t cultivate maize until cane was harvested by end of April. Time is of importance as delay in cultivation reduces per acre yield day by day,” he added.

“Maize requires regular watering but cannot survive its excess. The crop was damaged later when it rained heavily and water stood in the fields. The subsequent rains also caused growth of weeds in the crop. The crop also needs proper quantity of DAP and urea intakes. But as prices of these fertilisers more than doubled during this period, these remained mostly unaffordable by poor farmers,” he added.

About 40-50 per cent of the crop across the province might have been lost to these factors, he said. To get the official version, this scribe tried to contact director general agriculture extension KP but he was not available. However, an official from Mardan agriculture department rejected Shah’s assertions and termed it an exaggeration.

“We provide hybrid seeds as well as technology. We had told farmers to cultivate maize either before 45 days or 15 days before the rainy season so that maize flowers are not damaged by winds or rains and the yield is better.

Those who did not follow our advice and making no arrangements for draining out surplus water from their fields might get some of their crops damaged by excess water but that would only be known when the crop was harvested, he said, adding there were no major negative reports from any area in the district and a good crop was expected.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa produces around 0.8 – 0.9 million tons of maize per year. According to an estimate, Punjab and KP account for 84 per cent of the total maize production and 95 per cent of the maize cultivation area. But while per acre yield of the crop in central Punjab has gone up to 4,600 kg, it is generally between 700-1,200kg in KP.

This is disappointing when that two locally developed hybrid maize varieties Babar and Karamat have yielded up to 4,800kg per acre in research farms.

KP’s share in countrywide maize production has been on the decline — it accounted for 68 per cent of the total maize production in 1996, down to 28 per cent in 2006.

The maize farmers in KP have remained far behind their counterparts in Punjab. According to a Swabi-based farmer Hameed Khan, the per acre yield in Punjab is higher because they use first generation (F1) seeds, do mechanised farming, apply latest production methods and have started commercial farming.

“But in KP, farmers lag far behind on these indicators and use mostly second generation (F2) or even third generation (F3) seeds. And it is known that yield from F2 declines by half while from F3 comes to less than 1/3rd of the F1 potential,” he says.

“Another advantage enjoyed by Punjab farmers is comparatively bigger land holdings and good financial position. They can invest more in standard seeds, fertiliser use and latest farming technology. Through efficient crop rotation and modern agriculture technology they have made it possible to grow three crops while in KP, despite potential, mostly two crops are grown,” he adds.

…………………………..

Here is the original text of the article

Prospects of maize crop

By Tahir Ali Khan

Farmers in the Malakand division hope for a bumper maize crop in wake of favourable weather and the lifting of an unannounced ban on the cultivation of maize imposed by the security forces in 2009.

Good yield in the area could boost maize production considerably as Malakand division accounts for 32 per cent of provincial maize production. A bumper crop besides increasing farmers’ incomes will also provide cheaper maize flour to the people, favoured by them for its warm effects.

Nasrullah Khan, a progressive farmer from Buner, said there were good prospects for the maize crop in the district this year. “There are no more restrictions on maize cultivation. There have been damages neither by rains nor winds. We are hoping to get a bumper crop in the district with PAY of up to 3200kg in some areas,” he informed.

And Muhammad Naeem, another progressive farmer and ex-head of the model farm services centre in Swat, seconded his views and said maize yield in the area will considerably increase as farmers face no curbs on maize cultivation this year. Local farmers eye PAY of up to 2000 kg from the farm seeds and around 2500kg from hybrid seeds in the area, which is the norm here,” he said.

However, in low/plain areas of the province like Peshawar, Swabi and Mardan, according to farmers, maize crop has been damaged first by the lack of water and rain and later by excess of water due to torrential rains though officials say there is no threat to the crop from these factors.

Haji Niamat Shah, vice president of Anjuman-e-Kashtkaran KP, said the most suitable time for maize cultivation in plain areas of the province was between March-May though it can be sown till July. “But there were no rains and the supply of water was also insufficient to cater to the watering needs of sugarcane crop and maize simultaneously. So, the farmers didn’t cultivate the crop until sugarcane was harvested till the end of April. Time is of importance as delay in cultivation decreases per acre yield (PAY) day by day,” he said.

“Maize requires watering regularly but it also cannot survive excess of water. Later when it rained heavily, the crop was damaged by the heated water standing in fields. Heavy subsequent rains also caused growth of unnecessary weeds in the crop. Then, maize also needs proper amount of DAP and urea intakes whose prices have more than doubled during this period, thus becoming mostly unaffordable for the poor farmers” he added.

According to him, about 40-50 per cent of crop across the province might have been lost to these factors. To get the official version, this scribe tried to contact director general agriculture extension KP but he was not available. However, an official from Mardan agriculture department rejected Shah’s assertions, dubbing it as an exaggeration.

“We provide hybrid seeds as well as technology. We had told farmers to cultivate maize either before 45 days or 15 days before the rainy season so that the maize flowers are not damaged by winds or rains and it yield better. Those who have not acted upon our advice and haven’t made arrangements for draining out surplus water from their fields may get some of their crop damaged by excess water but that will only be known when crop is harvested and not now,” said the official adding that there are no big negative reports on maize from any area in the district and a good crop is likely to be harvested.

Similar views were expressed by a Nowshera based official though he conceded crop in some low areas might have been damaged due to excess of water as farmers are generally oblivious to drainage system in the fields.

KP produces around 0.8 to 0.9 million tons of maize annually. According to an estimate, Punjab and KP account for 84 per cent of the total maize production and 95% of the maize area. But while PAY of maize crop in central Punjab has gone up to 4600 kg, it is generally between 700-1200kg in KP.

This is disappointing when viewed in the backdrop of the fact that two locally developed hybrid maize varieties-Babar and Karamat- have yielded up to 4800kg per acre in the research farms.

KP’s share in countrywide maize production has been on the decline – it accounted for 68 percent of total maize produce in 1996 which decreased to 28 percent in 2006.

Maize farmers in KP have remained far behind than their counterparts in Punjab and they need to take advantage of the expertise of their Punjabi brethren for their financial prosperity and food security of the people.

According to a Swabi based farmer Hameed Khan, PAY in Punjab is high because they use first generation (F1) seeds, love mechanised farming and use latest production methods and have started commercial farming. “But in KP, farmers have lagged far behind on these indicators. Farmers use mostly second generation (F2) or even third generation (F3) seeds here. And it is known that yield from F2 declines by half, that of F3 comes to less than 1/3rd of the F1 potential,” he says.

“Another advantage enjoyed by the Punjab farmers is comparatively bigger land holdings and good financial position. They can invest more in standard seeds, fertiliser use and latest farming technology. Efficient crop rotation and modern agriculture technology there have made it possible for them to grow three crops while in KP, despite potential, mostly two crops are grown,” he adds.

The absence of support price mechanism, of official purchase centres and of maize processing plants in the province have discouraged farmers to invest more in maize cultivation.

There are two ongoing schemes from the financial year 2009 in the annual development programme: One, for adaptive research on new hybrid maize varieties worth Rs44mn; and two, maize hybrid seeds production through public private partnership but slow pace of the schemes is mitigating their impacts.

Both the public and private sector need to be proactive and establish seed laboratories and introduce new drought/air resistant maize seed varieties to increase maize production.

Cheating in the examinations

Cheating their way to success

 

http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/aug2011-weekly/nos-14-08-2011/pol1.htm#1

Use of unfair means in examinations need to be strictly checked to improve credibility and standard of education
By Tahir Ali

Examination results show the ability and capability of students, teachers and institutions. Good results ensure admission to reputable institutions and eventual success in life. The problem of cheating during examinations has rendered Pakistan’s examination system and its results invalid and unreliable. What is more dangerous is that some students think of it as their right.

The superintendent and other invigilators at a given examination centre have to confront pressure during examinations, ranging from requests by friends and family members to allow cheating to political pressure, and attacks and death threats from student groups. All these pressures are aimed at one thing – to allow students use of unfair means to get good grades.

These allegations of corruption are not restricted to the invigilating staff. There are complaints that invigilating staff of choice is appointed at the boards of intermediate and secondary education (BISEs), papers are leaked and even better grades are maneuvered with the help of BISEs staff and marking/checking personnel there, charges which are denied by BISE officials.

The National Accountability Bureau in collaboration with BISEs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recently organised a seminar on the issue where a strategy against the same was prepared. Cheating in the board examinations, in one way or the other, is in the knowledge of all and everyone wants to correct the situation, states an official document prepared by a local BISE.

“Parents’ obsession with their child’s future, private education sector’s efforts to ensure good grades for their candidates, lack of required facilities, non availability of sufficient teachers, books and material in schools, paucity of female teachers and invigilators, absence of criteria and favouritism in teachers’ selection for examination duties both at the department and the board levels, political interference, etc, are some of the problems in this regard,” the document says.

According to a senior educationist, who wishes anonymity, negligible remuneration and daily allowance for invigilators for examination duties is another problem.

“Daily remuneration of Rs25, Rs37 and Rs60 for common invigilators, the deputy superintendent (grade 16 or 17) and superintendent (grade 17-18) respectively gets them around Rs225, Rs700 and Rs1080 for the full duration of the examination. Teachers also get a daily allowance of Rs280 and Rs500 respectively in the same order which is being given at this rate for years now. Earlier, it was given on the basis of running basic pay but now at lump-sum basis. Then there are mostly two papers a day but there is no extra remuneration or daily allowance for them for the double paper,” he says.

The remuneration has remained unchanged for years though examination fees and prices have been increased manifold. “Do the board members, chairman, secretaries, controllers and the other officers at the BISEs draw the same level of remuneration and daily allowances for their examination related duties? It is not unnatural if, in this backdrop of meager remuneration by the BISEs, invigilators do not perform their duties on merit and impartially,” he says.

Examination centres also face paucity of space. The students are to be seated at four meters distance from each other but it is hardly practised for space constraints in the halls. Congested seating, resorted primarily to accommodate the students for shortage of space, makes supervision difficult and makes inter-students communication and copying easy, especially when there is frequent power shutdown in the summer, the examination season in the country.

Students usually use mobile phones for unfair means in the examination. Despite warnings from the staff, they bring mobile set(s) along with them. Invigilators ask them to switch their sets off but they usually dodge. Then, in some cases, megaphones are also used by outsiders to help candidates answer the questions.

Number of staff is also a problem. An invigilator is appointed for 40 students. Though an extra invigilator is allowed for 11 more students but if there are less than 11 students, one invigilator may have to supervise upto 50 students, which makes his or her task very difficult.

In some papers, where the number of students increases from average (on the basis of which the staff is appointed) the superintendents are allowed to appoint extra invigilators but they usually avoid doing so as it requires lengthy procedures to take sanction for extra staff and then no one is ready to do the duty for a day or two.

The boards can punish the cheaters on a written complaint from the superintendents, by canceling the concerned paper(s) or ban him/her for a few years from taking examination. But the examiners usually avoid so for three reasons: One, to avoid lengthy paperwork required to prepare a tenable unfair-means case; two, this can ruin the victim’s future beyond repair; and three, students often react violently at cases. Recently, a local BISE’s controller of examinations narrowly escaped an attempt on his life.

Some invigilators also point out that if students resort to hooliganism, it is the examiners who are accused of not using ways to avoid such incidents. What this practically means is: allow the cheaters if stopping them can create problems.

All the stakeholders in the examination system – students, their parents, teachers, schools and BISEs, who are responsible, though in varying degrees, for rampant malpractices will have to make efforts to stop or minimise this scourge.

It requires a three-pronged strategy to guard against cheating in examination: before, during and after the examination. Teachers and students need to fully commit themselves to teaching/learning process. Students should revise notes at home. Schools with hostel facility usually show better performance. Competitive environment in classes and a proper mechanism for guidance and counseling students are also needed in schools.

To improve teaching at schools, a system of reward and punishment for teachers should be introduced. The performance report of all teachers for this purpose should be prepared on a quarterly basis by the departmental inspection teams from lower classes, rather than on annual basis and at Matric or intermediate levels as these days.

Increase in remuneration and daily allowances of staff and then appointment of honest invigilators should be ensured. This can be easily done by computerising the record and the process of invigilation staff selection. The education department should forward the lists.

Teachers’ unions should not be allowed to interfere in the examination. Ruling political parties will have to take initiative by disowning their political wings in teachers and let the board administrators decide things on merit. Interference by outsiders can be prevented by police personnel and daily visits of inspectors to the examination centre. Moreover, fully enclosed examination halls could also help overcome the problem.

Through awareness campaigns in the print and electronic media and through functions and lectures, people should be convinced of the repercussions of using unfair-means in a students’ career.

“Complete dependence on external examination in total disregard to internal examination for final result of the students is flawed. A comprehensive testing system, which takes into account the results shown by students in both the internal examination conducted by his institution and external one by BISEs, will greatly minimise corruption in the examination,” adds the educationist.

tahir_katlang@yahoo.com

 

Following is the original text of the article as sent to the paper.

 

Arresting cheating in examinations

By Tahir Ali

It is examination season in the country. Examination results are the yardsticks of students, teachers and institutions ability and good results in it ensure admission in reputable institutions and eventual success in life. But the problem of malpractices during the examination has not only rendered Pakistan’s examination system and its results invalid and unreliable but what is more dangerous is that students are beginning to think of it as their right.

The superintendent and other invigilators at a given examination centre, have to confront several pressures and enticements during the examinations. Ranging from requests by friends and family members to allow malpractices to offers for money to political and social pressures and attacks and death threats from students’ groups, the students, their parents, teachers and institutions try their best to get undue advantage from them during the examination papers.

All these efforts, offers and pressures are aimed at one thing- to allow students the use of unfair means to earn good grades.

These allegations of corruption and malpractices are not restricted to the invigilating staff. There are complaints that invigilating staff of choice is got appointed at the boards of intermediate and secondary education (BISEs), papers are leaked and even better grades are manoeuvred with the help of BISEs staff and marking/checking personnel there, charges which are denied by BISE officials.

The national accountability bureau in collaboration with BISEs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recently organised a seminar on the issue where a strategy against the same was prepared.

Cheating in the board examinations, in one way or the other, is in the knowledge of all and everyone wants to correct the situation, states an official document prepared by a local BISE.

“Parents’ obsession with their children future, private education sector’s efforts to ensure good grades for their candidates, lack of required facilities, non availability of sufficient teachers, books and material in schools, paucity of female teachers and invigilators, absence of criteria for and favouritism in teachers’ selection for examination duties both at the department and the board levels, political interference and pressures by the teachers unions are some of the problems in this regard,” it says.

According to a senior educationist, who wished anonymity, negligible remuneration and daily allowance for the invigilators for the examination duties is exacerbating the phenomenon.

“Daily remuneration (tea, meal expenses) of Rs25, Rs37 and Rs60 for common invigilators, the deputy superintendant (grade 16 or 17) and superintendant (grade 17-18) respectively gets them a around Rs225, Rs700 and Rs1080 for the full duration of the examination. Teachers also get a daily allowance of Rs280 and Rs500 respectively in the same order which is being given at this rate for years now. Earlier it was given on the basis of running basic pay but now at lump-sum basis. Then there are mostly two papers a day but there is no extra remuneration or daily allowance for them for the double paper,” he said.

“The remuneration has remained unchanged for years though examination fees and prices have been increased manifold.  Do the board members, chairman, secretaries, controllers and the other officers at the BISEs draw the same level of remuneration and daily allowances for their examination related duties? It is not unnatural if, in this back-drop of meagre remuneration by the BISEs, invigilators hardly resist the offers provided by the institutions and parents of candidates and if they don’t perform their duties on merit and impartially,” he questioned.

According to another public school teacher, examination centres also face paucity of space. “The students are to be seated at four meters distance from each other but it is hardly practised for space constraints at the halls. Congested seating, resorted primarily to accommodate the students for shortage of space, makes supervision difficult, renders inter-students communication and copying easy and makes time miserable for students and the staff especially when there is frequent power shutdown in the summer, the examination season in the country,” he opined.

Students usually use mobile phones for unfair means in the examination. Despite warnings from the staff, they bring mobile set(s) along with them. Invigilators ask them to switch their sets off but they usually dodge. Then megaphones are also used by outsiders to help the candidates answer the questions.

Staff paucity problem is also there. An invigilator is appointed for 40 students. Though an extra invigilator is allowed for 11 more students but if there are less than 11 students, one invigilator may have to supervise upto 50 students. Is it possible?

In some papers where the number of students increases from average (on the basis of which the staff is appointed) the superintendants are allowed to appoint extra invigilators but they usually avoid doing so as it requires lengthy procedure to take the sanction for the extra staff and then no one is ready to do duty for a day or two.

The boards can punish the cheaters, on a written complaint from the superintendents, by cancelling the concerned paper(s)/examination or ban him/her for a few years from taking examination. But the examiners usually avoid so for three reasons: One, to avoid the lengthy paperwork required to prepare a tenable unfair-means case; two, this can ruin the victim’s future beyond repair; and three, students often react violently at UFM cases and even fire at the staff. Recently, a local BISE’s controller of examinations narrowly escaped an attempt on his life.

Some invigilators also pointed out that, if students resort to hooliganism anywhere for strictness of the invigilating staff and any untoward incident happens as a result, it is the examiners who are accused of not knowing/using the tactics to avoid such incidents. What this practically means is clear: allow the cheaters if stopping them can create problems.

How to tackle the problem

All the stake-holders in the examination system- students, their parents, teachers, schools and BISEs, who are responsible, though in varying degrees, for rampant malpractices, will have to make concerted/joint efforts to stop or minimise this scourge.

It requires three-pronged strategies to guard against cheating in examination: before, during and after the examination.

Teachers and students need to fully commit themselves to teaching/learning process. Students should revise the work at homes. Schools with hostel facility usually show better performance.

Competitive environment in classes and a proper mechanism for guidance and counselling of the students are also needed in schools.

To improve teaching at schools, a system of reward and punishment for teachers should be introduced in schools. The performance report of all teachers for this purpose should be prepared on quarterly basis by the departmental inspection teams from lower classes, rather than on annual basis and at Matric or intermediate levels as these days.

Increase in remuneration and daily allowances of the staff and then appointment of honest invigilators should be ensured. This can be easily done by computerising the record and the process of invigilation staff selection. The education department should forward the lists.

Teachers’ unions should not be allowed to interfere in the examination. Ruling political parties will have to take initiative by disowning their political wings in teachers and let the board administrators decide things on merit.

Interference by outsiders can be prevented by enough strength of police personnel and daily visits of resident inspectors to the examination centre. Moreover, fully enclosed examination halls could also help overcome the problem.

Through awareness campaigns on print and electronic media and through functions and lectures by social, political and religious celebrities, people should be convinced of the repercussions of the unfair-means for the students’ careers. Obviously, when children know that their parents can go to any limit to get them pass, why would they work hard after that?

“Malpractices in the examinations could be minimised by reducing the weightage of external examination. The present complete dependence on the external examination in total disregard of the internal examination for the final result of the students is flawed. A comprehensive testing system which takes into account the results shown by the students in both the internal examination conducted by his institution and external one by BISEs besides taking other aspects of his performance and character, apart from the written one, will greatly minimise corruption in the examination,” adds the educationist.

(tahir_katlang@yahoo.com)

 

%d bloggers like this: