Cholistan Development Authority


History of Cholistan Development Authority
Cholistan desert fell in the domain of princely state of Bahawalpur. The desert had no specialized management under the state administration till 1945. In 1945, a separate Cholistan Development Branch was created in Agriculture Department of the State. The initial functions identified for the branch were conservation and improvement of water sources, improvement of sheep breeding and promotion of wool industry, and promotion of cottage industries particularly woolen handlooms. A Cholistan Development Officer was given the responsibility of heading this newly created branch.  This arrangement continued till merger of the State with Province of West Pakistan in 1954. One important initiative of the State undertaken through Cholistan Development Officer in these years was Shahi Muzarain Scheme whereby two squares of land each were allotted to the landless for cultivation in different parts of Cholistan in 1951-52.
There was no separate administrative arrangement for the affairs of Cholistan from 1954 onward. The Deputy Commissioners of the three districts of Bahawalpur, Rahimyar Khan, and Bahawalnagar managed the desert areas adjacent to their districts jointly with other areas of their districts. The area was harsh and prohibitive and remained largely ignored as far development initiatives were concerned.  Need was felt to concentrate governmental attention on the area under a specialized administrative arrangement. Cholistan Development Authority Act was promulgated in 1976 and Cholistan Development Authority came into being. Initially it was created as a branch in the office of Commissioner Bahawalpur with very limited staff, only looking after colonization work. But gradually its staff was increased and development funds started flowing in from late 1980s. Now Cholistan Development Authority is a sprawling organization with specialized revenue, engineering and livestock wings looking after field activities while Managing Director is assisted by Accounts, Administration, Legal and General branches. CDA has PMUs of two projects currently under execution including PMU of Cholistan Livestock Development Project, Literate Cholistan Project and plans to establish a Community Mobilization Wing and Wood Cutting Prevention Force. A PMU for Social Development Project and Cholistan Shadbad Livestock Farms Project shall also be established soon. 
The Authority is headed by Chief Minister Punjab as its Chairman. Managing Director CDA is the Vice-Chairman of the Authority. The original membership of the Authority was given in the CDA Act 1976. Government was given the power to increase or decrease the membership under the law. The original composition of the CDA as given in the Act is detailed in Table A.
High Profile provincial government functionaries were made members of the Authority over the years through notifications. These included Chairman P&D, Senior Member Board of Revenue, Secretary Finance, and Secretary Irrigation etc. This underscored the increasing importance of the Authority but tilted the balance in favor of bureaucrats at the expense of elected representatives and membership from civil society, corporate sector, academia etc.

Table A: Composition of Cholistan development authority as per CDA Act 1976


A Minister nominated by the Governor



Three members from Bahawalpur division from amongst the Members of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab or the National Assembly of Pakistan nominated by the Government



Commissioner, Bahawalpur.



Chief Engineer Irrigation Bahawalpur



Superintending Engineer, Public Health Engineering Bahawalpur



Conservator of Forests, Bahawalpur



Deputy Director Agriculture, Bahawalpur



Deputy Director Livestock and Dairy Development Bahawalpur



Deputy Registrar Co-operative Societies Bahawalpur



Managing Director


The situation was corrected in July 2009 when Chief Minister Punjab reconstituted the Authority. The new composition as notified on January 15, 2009 is given below


Honourable Chief Minister Punjab or his nominate Minister.



Ch. Saud Majeed and Mian Abdus Sattar, MNAs,



Miss Zaib Jaffar, Col (R) Naveed Sajid, Ch. Mumtaz Ahmed Jajja and Mr. Khalid Rauf, MPAs.



Secretaries, P&DD.  Finance,  Agriculture and Livestock.



Member (Colonies) Board of Revenue, Punjab.



Commissioner Bahawalpur Division, Bahawalpur.



Registrar Cooperative Punjab.



Sami Ullah Ch, Mr. Khalil Sattar, Chairmen, Task Force.



Prince Aziz-ur-Rasheed, Agriculturist.



Dr. Zafar Altaf, Chairman (PARC).



Dr. Hamid Jalil, Director Planning, L&DD Department.



Dean, Islamia University, Bahawalpur,

Ex-officio Member


Managing Director, Punjab Tourism.



Chief Engineer (Irrigation) Bahawalpur.



Conservator of Forest, Bahawalpur.



Superintending Engineer, PHE, Bahawalpur.



Managing Director, CDA, Bahawalpur.

Member / Secretary


It is evident from the composition of the re-constituted Authority that a balance has been created between the official and non-official representation. Experts from Agriculture, Livestock and Corporate sectors have been included in the membership. MD Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab has also been made a member to underscore the tourism potential of the area. The link with the academia has been established by making Dean Social Sciences, Islamia University Bahawalpur as ex-officio member. A representative from the Nawab family of Bahawalpur has also been included to acknowledge their prestige and services for the country.  Rest of the membership has been retained but the overall number has been increased.



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Dengue campaign

Notification of Intensive LiveStock Farming in Cholistan


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