Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that a plan to equip slums with basic amenities is on cards and vowed to give ownership rights to slum-dwellers. Addressing at the launch of Punjab peri-urban housing project for low-income groups in Raiwind, he said that ill-planning of infrastructure and encroachment in all major cities was leading to civic problems including poor sanitation, pollution and mushroom growth of slums. ‘ISLAND OF RICH’ He said that no nation could prosper with an ‘island of rich’ and a ‘big sea of poor’ and regretted that only a particular elite ruled the country during the last 74 years. He said that the government was focusing on equitable distribution of resources to rich and poor by ensuring basic amenities of life for all. “The notion of ‘elite capture’ and the prevailing mindset that Pakistan belongs to a particular class only is regrettable,” he said, adding that the elite-centric policies inflicted huge damage upon the poor whose access to civic facilities including health, education and jobs greatly suffered. The prime minister said that his vision was to make powerful answerable to law and strengthen the weaker segments of society. He said that Islam’s first socio-welfare ‘State of Medina’ was a model to be emulated where rule of law and justice prevailed regardless of the status of a person. He pointed out that the opposition wanted an NRO (deal) from him to spare their corruption, however he said that such efforts would go in vain. He said that the political elite in the past ‘patronized illegal land grabbing’ that led to litigation and obstructed development work. He said that the government had launched several affordable housing schemes for low-income groups. He said that construction industry was resulting in economic boom. As construction sector was connected with 30 other industries, he said that the step would help resolve the problems of accommodation and unemployment. Pakistan was blessed with areas having spectacular natural beauty, he said, adding that proper tourism strategy could earn the country huge revenues. He said that the government was focused on bringing a revolution in agriculture sector and mentioned that he was personally overseeing the area to facilitate farmers. During the last two years, he said the farmers were given an additional payment of Rs 11 billion and the yields of wheat, rice and corn witnessed a record production. He said that Pakistan was also undergoing development in information technology with a record exports of equipment in 11 years. FACE MASK USE On COVID-19, the prime minister appealed to the public to observe standard operating procedures to contain the dangerous wave of pandemic and stressed to continue the use of face mask as a crucial precaution. “The next two weeks are very significant and our target is to bring down the coronavirus cases,” he said. Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar said in first phase, over one million houses would be constructed and the project would later be expanded to the tehsil level. He said the Punjab government would extend Rs 0.3 million subsidy on each house to low-income groups.