LAHORE - The Punjab government has finally issued notification of declaring Multan a big city, five years after the announcement by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

On the recommendations of ex-PM Yousaf Raza Gillani in 2009, Shahbaz Sharif had declared Multan a big city but the provincial administration never notified that.

Couple of days ago, the matter was raised with the chief minister, who was on his one-day tour of the region.

Taking serious notice of the delay, Shahbaz Sharif has now ordered the authorities concerned to issue the notification within 48 hours.

When contacted, Multan DCO Zahid Saleem Gondal on Friday confirmed issuing the notification. He said that big development works, like Multan Metro Bus and Faisalabad-Multan Motorway, were being carried out in Multan.

“The chief minister wants Multan to be a modern city with metro, model police stations, rapid communication, better healthcare facilities and educational environment,” the DCO held.

All those cities, where city district governments have been established besides other development authorities like Town Municipal Administrations and Wasa, privileges of a big city have been given to the employees who deserve that under the rules.

Some employees of the big city enjoy 45 per cent residence allowances, besides travelling allowances as compared to the other cities that avail only 30pc allowances.

Earlier, many circles have expressed surprise over the CM’s announcement giving Multan a status of big city.

An officer, conditioning anonymity, said that only the cities with CDGs and Town Municipal Administrations (TMAs) were considered as big cities under the local governments, adding that there was no need to declare them ‘big cities’ separately. He said that former premier Gilani had spent much on his home town and constructed bypasses, flyovers, bridges.

The Multan Airport Extension Project in 2011 at a cost of Rs4.5b and the Multan-Karachi Motorway were also announced in the PPP regime, he continued.

The officer said that the approval of projects like Multan Ring Road worth 10b, Nawaz Sharif Agriculture University, Shahbaz Sharif General Hospital, kidney care centers, supply of potable water, inner ring road and sewage were done during the regime of PML-N. He said that the status of a separate province to the South with Multan its capital was also under consideration of the present administration. Establishment of a mini-secretariat in the city to facilitate the masses was also on the cards, he added.