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March 29, 2016

Centre, KP yet to resolve CPEC’s Western route issue


March 29, 2016

Standoff renders province indecisive to finalise SEZs on alignment

PESHAWAR: As the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments have not yet fully resolved the issue of the western route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the provincial government has proposed two more options for the much-publicised western alignment of the mega project.

The Planning and Development Department sources shared various documents about this issue with The News on Monday.They said at least two letters and office memoranda had been sent to the federal government. A series of meetings, they added, had been held with the Planning Commission, Ministry of Commerce, Prime Minister Office officials and chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on the CPEC to finalise the western route of the $46 billion project that has been described as fortune-changer for the region. 

However, they added that no response had yet been received from the federal government regarding the final western route.The sources said at least 12 projects had been identified and proposed to the Chinese officials. These included construction of the 81 kilometers long Swat Motorway, Sharmai Hydropower Project, Shogosin Hydropower Project, Shusghai Hydropower Project, 500-bed Trauma and Burn Hospital in Peshawar, Special Economic Zones at Rashakai, Nowshera, Hattar and Dera Ismail Khan, and trucking and logistics terminal in Mansehra, Peshawar and Bannu.

However, extensive planning and implementation of these projects cannot be initiated before the finalization of the western route of the project.The provincial government has not yet expressed its agreement to the CPEC’s western route as proposed by the federal government officials at the meeting of the committee on CPEC constituted by the Prime Minister Office.

Asim Amin, General Manager of the National Highway Authority, had informed the March 1 meeting of the Prime Minister Office committee that the western route would pass through Turbat, Panjgur, Khuzdar, Quetta, Zhob and Mughalkot and would enter Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at Dera Ismail Khan and then intersect the Motorway in Burhan.

However, the provincial government through Senator Mohsin Aziz, Vice-Chairman of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Board of Investment and Trade (KPBOIT), expressed some reservations at the meeting over the western route proposed by the federal government. The minutes of the meeting are available with The News.

The KP chief minister, in the backdrop of the committee’s meeting on March 4 wrote to Ahsan Iqbal, federal Minister for Planning, National Reforms and Development to highlight his government’s concerns. He reminded Ahsan Iqbal of the decision that the western route would have eight industrial parks to be established at Battagram, Mansehra, Haripur, Karnal Sher Interchange on the Motorway (M-I), Malakand-Chakdara Interchange, Swat, Bannu (on Indus Highway) and Dera Ismail Khan and that the provincial government will provide commercial feasibility for these projects.

The chief minister in his letter said the circular railways line from Peshawar to Nowshera, Mardan, Charsadda and back to Peshawar, the western railway track from Dera Ismail Khan to Peshawar, the motorway from Dera Ismail Khan to Peshawar and from Karak to Taxila via Kohat-Jhand should also be initiated as a major component of the CPEC’s western alignment.

The chief minister, however, sounded uncertain about the western route and sought credible evidence from the federal government about its decision to undertake the western alignment of the mega CPEC project.

The P&D sources informed The News that the provincial government was still awaiting reply from the federal government to identify the exact alignment of the western route of the CPEC. They said no intimation in this respect had been made by the federal government in any form yet.

The sources said this had perturbed the provincial government, which proposed to the federal government to consider two other options for the western alignment of the CPEC.The provincial government’s first proposal to the federal government is that the western route should pass through Khunjarab, Mansehra, Hattar, Taxila, Bhal Sayedan, Mitthial, Jhand and Kohat to Dera Ismail Khan. Its second proposed route is Khunjarab, Mansehra, Hattar, Taxila, Attock, Mitthial, Jhand, Kohat and Dera Ismail Khan before entering Mughalkot and moving onwards.



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