ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a two-day media conclave and roundtable conference appreciated the role undertaken by Chinese companies working in Gwadar in the domain of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). However, they highlighted the importance of effective development communication and positive engagement with local communities for the effectiveness and long-term success of these projects. The conclave titled “CSR Initiatives in Gwadar (The Gateway to CPEC).” was jointly organized by Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Islamabad and the University of Gwadar in collaboration with China Overseas Ports Holding Company (COPHC), Gwadar Port Authority (GPA) and Gwadar Development Authority (GDA) in the strategic port town. Speaking on the occasion, Chairman, Gwadar Port Authority (GPA), Naseer Khan Kashani stressed the importance of bringing the locals together through CSR. “We must prioritize people over infrastructure development. Drinkable water and electricity is the top priority of the authorities in Gwadar”, he stated. Kashani said a desalination plant of about 1.2 million gallons would become operational in six to eight months that would provide drinkable water for the locals. Moreover, the newly inaugurated state-of-the-art Pak-China Vocational & Technical Training Institute will provide three years’ training to local youth, which is a big contribution by our Chinese friends, he added. He said, Chinese authorities had also recently provided 3,000 solar panels to the poorest of the poor in Gwadar for the provision of electricity. Speaking on the occasion, Chairman COPHC, Zhang Baozhong said Gwadar deserved more rapid development to live up to the expectations of the local people. “The inhabitants of Gwadar deserve respect and development according to their rightful demands”, Mr. Baozhong underscored. He said 20 students were being sent to China on scholarship, while Chinese were running primary school for the last five years and would soon construct a secondary school as well. Country Head Marketing of COPHC, Shahzad Sultan said more than 6000 solar panel units have been distributed among the people of Gwadar so far, and around 500,000 trees have been planted. Chairman IPS Khalid Rahman highlighted the concept of CSR and elements that can improve the lives of the local inhabitants. Speaking on the occasion, Vice Chancellor, University of Gwadar, Professor Dr Abdul Razzaq Sabir appreciated the initiatives of IPS for identifying challenges in the area adding that working on development of human resources should be the biggest priority of the government and private sector. He was of the view that CSR must be defined in local perspective to resolve people’s genuine and basic issues. Director, Riphah Institute of Public Policy (RIPP), Dr. Rashid Aftab said reservations of locals must be addressed with evidence-based data sharing with all relevant stakeholders. Earlier, Advisor Maritime Affairs, Ministry of Planning, Development & Special Initiatives, Jawad Akhtar Khokhar gave a detailed overview of the development projects in Gwadar under various modalities and highlighted the CPEC projects worth $2.1 billion so far. He said so far three projects worth $314 million have been completed including the Gwadar Smart Port City Master Plan, the physical infrastructure of Gwadar Port and Free Zone Phase-1, and Pak-China Technical and Vocational Institute. Another seven projects worth $1.44 billion are under implementation process including Eastbay Expressway, which is 98 percent complete; facilities of fresh water treatment, water supply and distribution, which are 70 per cent complete; New Gwadar International Airport; Pak-China Friendship Hospital Gwadar; infrastructure of Gwadar Free Zone Phase-II; 300 MW coal power plant and 1.2 million gallons’ desalination plant. Khokhar said under the short-term strategy the prioritized projects include provision of water in three months and electricity in five months for Gwadar, Trading Corporation of Pakistan has been authorized to import one-third cargoes at Gwadar; and completion of M-8 motorway. Highlighting long-term strategy, he said the government was aiming to build LNG and POL terminals at Gwadar port and ensure availability of electricity, water and gas to enable phase-2 expansion of the port. Dolat Khan, registrar, University of Gwadar and Arsalan Ali, Head of Investments, Gwadar Development Authority (GDA) also spoke on the occasion.