Senate panel assails govt for delay in CPEC western projects – Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Communications noted on Monday that a ‘callous’ attitude adopted by the government was giving an impression that it was shelving western corridor projects of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The committee meeting held at the Parliament House discussed various development projects including progress on Yarik-Hakla 292.50 kilometre-long section that was facing delay because of financial constraints.

Senator Ahmed Khan criticised the finance ministry and the planning division for what he called their mismanaged approach.

“The problem is that we are leaving no stone unturned to prove that the western corridor of the CPEC has been shelved,” Senator Khan said.

He added: “This is not giving a good impression to anyone, especially to the people of Balochistan.”

Officials of National Highways Authority complain of inadequate fund allocation

He suggested ways to continue the work at the small portion of the CPEC’s western route. “No fund has been released so far and the second quarter of the financial year is starting from October and, therefore, the major allocation is likely to be released in the quarter starting from January 2020; when do we expect the project to be completed,” Senator Khan asked.

The committee was informed by National Highways Authority (NHA) officials that the remaining work on the projects needed Rs51 billion for completion, but only Rs11bn had been allocated in the development budget of the current fiscal year.

The incomplete projects included bridges which were high-cost segments of the project.

The chairman of the committee, Senator Hidayatullah, inquired about the point of view of the finance ministry and the planning division over delays in the release of funds for the projects.

It was decided that officials of the finance ministry and the planning division would be called in the next meeting to ascertain their position on the issue.

The committee was given a detailed briefing on the western and eastern routes of the CPEC.

NHA chairman retired captain Sikander Qayyum informed the committee that more than 88 per cent work was in progress at 118.05 kilometre-long Havellian-Thahkot section, while its expressway section including Havellian-Mansehra was 95.94pc complete. He said the expressway section would be opened for traffic by the mid of October.

Work at the Class-II highway section of Mansehra-Thahkot was also under progress, he added.

The committee was informed that a three-kilometre section of the link road was to be completed by the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The meeting was attended by Senators Behramand Tangi, Fida Mohammad, Maula Bakhsh Chandio, Ateeq Shaikh, retired Lt. Gen Salahuddin Tirmzi, Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini, Liaquat Taraqai, Yousuf Badini, Dr Ashok Kumar, Ahmed Khan and Mr Gianchand.

Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2019

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