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October 9, 2018

Govt urged not to shelve mega projects in Chitral


October 9, 2018

PESHAWAR: Former Member National Assembly (MNA) Shahzada Iftikharuddin has urged the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government to revisit the decision of dropping key infrastructure projects from the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) in the interest of the people of the hitherto neglected district.

“On behalf of the people of Chitral, I met Senior Minister for Tourism Atif Khan in the second week of September and requested him to have all the NHA road projects namely Chitral-Garam Chashma Dorah Pass Road costing Rs8.4 billion, Chitral-Kalash Valleys Road, Chitral-Shandur Road, Terich Lot Owir, Chitral-Chakdara road and Torkhow Road which the C&W Department implemented if we really want promotion of tourism in the area. To my request, Atif Khan promised to speak to Prime Minister Imran Khan to ensure that Garam Chashma and Kalash Valley roads projects are executed as planned,” Shahzada Iftikhar said in a statement.

He said at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Commission (ECNEC) on March 7, this year, it was ensured that Chitral-Shandur Road was not left to the China-Pakistan Economic Corroder funding. At the time of approval, it was agreed that for this road funds would be allocated via PSDP. Therefore, an amount of Rs1.5 billion was allocated in PSDP 2018 for the current financial year.

“In the 2018-19 budget, I had ensured that Rs1.5 billion were allocated for Chitral-Shandur Road against its total cost of Rs16.75 billion, another Rs1.5 billion were allocated for Chitral-Garam Chashma road with the total project cost of Rs8.4 billion, Rs500 million were set aside for the Kalash valley Roads with the total cost of Rs4.6 billion and Rs300 million were reserved for the Torkhow Road. Now 12 out of 13 excavators and bulldozers have been moved out of the Torkhow Road project site by the contractor.

The federal government recently dropped the Chitral-Shandur road from the current fiscal year’s PSDP while funding for another mega project, Chakdara-Chitral road, has also been shelved.

“It is very painful to learn of the new government’s priorities. Chakdara-Chitral road also part of the PSDP costing Rs17.42 billion has been guaranteed funding from South Korean’s EXIM Bank whose status needs to be determined. Likewise Rs750 million were included in PSDP for Terich Lot Owir road in addition to three bridges each costing Rs16 crores between Oseak-Drosh, Kuragh-Kosht, Nishkuh-Werkhop, Shogore-Awi as all bridge projects were approved at CDWP on 13 March 2018,” he pointed out.

That means that Terich Lot Owir road alone had total allocations of Rs1.02 billion (Rs75o million+Rs160 million for Nishkuh Bridge + Rs16 crores for Kuragh Kosht Bridge).

One would reckon if the Rs16.75 billion Shandur Road gets dropped the same could also be expected of the 212 km Shandur-Gilgit road for which Rs25 billion were allocated in the PSDP 2018-19 thereby taking out Chitral from CPEC’s alternate route and casting a dark shadow on our future economic outlook as Chitral becomes isolated at a time when the rest of the GB and Hazara and 14 districts of KP besides Bajaur and Mohmand agencies would reap the benefits of the CPEC route.

He said removing Chitral’s megaprojects from PSDP 2018 is unfortunate as it had taken 14 months just to survey the Chitral-Shandur Road and an additional year to approve it at ECNEC while it took six months each just to survey the Garam Chashma and Kalash valley roads. He said an amount of Rs59 billion was spent on different projects in Chitral during the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government’s tenure from 2013 to May 2018.

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