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Punjab govt to hold balloting on May 10 for green bikes for students

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: The Punjab government announced the schedule for the Punjab Bike Scheme 2024.

Provincial Minister for Transport, Bilal Akbar Khan, chaired a meeting to review the scheme’s progress, aimed at providing 20,000 bikes to deserving students.

The meeting noted an overwhelming response from students, with applications exceeding 100,000, indicating significant enthusiasm.

May 10 was finalized for the balloting of the 20,000 bikes.

Minister Bilal Akbar Khan expressed satisfaction at the unprecedented interest from students and highlighted the scheme’s inclusivity, noting that applications from female students outnumbered those from males.

Ensuring transparency in the balloting process, Minister Bilal Akbar Khan emphasized the government’s commitment to fairness.

Rigorous scrutiny was applied to flagged applications, ensuring procedural integrity.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani government has announced a substantial hike in fees for fast-track passport applications, set to take effect from May 8.

Under the new fee structure, the cost of a 72-page passport will surge to Rs18,500, while a 100-page passport will see an increase to Rs23,000.

Moreover, machine-readable passports with a 10-year validity period will incur the following fees: Rs16,200 for 36 pages, Rs25,200 for 72 pages, and Rs32,000 for 100 pages.

This latest escalation in fees follows a prior increase for both ordinary and urgent passport applications.

Government officials cite the necessity of these hikes to offset the expenses associated with issuing new passports and to enhance the quality of passport services.

The decision to raise fees for passports is likely to have significant implications for Pakistani citizens, particularly those who rely on fast-track services due to urgent travel needs.

The increased financial burden may pose challenges for individuals and families, especially amidst the ongoing economic strains exacerbated by the global pandemic.

While the government emphasizes its commitment to improving passport services, concerns may arise regarding the accessibility of these services to all segments of society, particularly those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Furthermore, the timing of the fee hike amid the prevailing economic uncertainties raises questions about its impact on citizens already grappling with inflation and reduced purchasing power.

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I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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