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May 2, 2020

Ecnec approves four mega projects

ISLAMABAD: The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on Thursday approved four mega projects with estimated cost of Rs250 billion, including upward revised cost of over 185 percent for acquisition of land and resettlement plan for the Diamer Bhasha Dam.

Against the original cost of Rs60 billion, the Ecnec has now approved the revised cost of Rs175.43 billion for acquisition of land and resettlement plan for the much-awaited Bhasha Dam. This is another classic example of mismanagement how the cost escalated for projects of national importance. There is a need to fix responsibility who is responsible for such whopping escalation for acquisition of land and resettlement plan. The KP and Gilgit Baltistan governments are so far unable to resolve the lingering controversy over the ownership of piece of eight acres of land where the power stations of Bhasha Dam will be constructed.

According to official announcement, the Ecnec also considered the Diamer-Bhasha Dam Project (Acquisition of land and resettlement) and accorded in-principle approval to the project with the instruction to the Planning Division to further rationalise the cost on the pay and allowances component of the project.

Under the project to be completed at the cost of Rs175.43 billion, 30,350 people being displaced from 4,102 households of the project area would be resettled while land spread over 35,924 acres would also be acquired. Besides, provision of health facilities, establishment of educational institutions and improvement, implementation of Cultural Heritage Management Plan, Fisheries Management Plan, Camp Management Plan, Livelihood Interventions, Social Safety Net, Business Restoration Plan and socio-economic research studies would also be undertaken and completed under the project.

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) has approved four major projects at the cost of nearly Rs 250 billion in a meeting held on Thursday at the Cabinet Block with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair. The meeting discussed a proposal for the construction of Lodhran-Multan Section (North Bound 62 kms) of N-5 and construction of two flyovers at Railways Crossing at Lodhran Bypass and approved the project at the cost of Rs 12.434 billion. Under the project to be completed in 24 months, beside road two flyovers along with three interchanges at Super Chowk and Permit Chowk, Lodhran, and an interchange at the Bahawalpur Chowk, Multan, would be built. Besides, four minor bridges as well as reconstruction and widening of culverts and urban area improvement at Basti Malook, Multan City and Larr Town would also be carried out under the project.

The ECNEC also approved a project titled ‘Punjab Human Capital Investment Project’ at the cost of Rs 32 billion to strengthen primary health facilities, introduce conditional cash transfer program to encourage the poor to access the health and nutrition support, support economic inclusion for young parents with children for poverty alleviation and expand and strengthen early childhood education. The project to be completed in five years would be rolled out in 11 less-developed districts of Punjab, including Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, Bhakkar, Dera Ghazi Khan, Khushab, Layyah, Lodhran, Mianwali, Muzaffargarh, Rahim Yar Khan and Rajanpur.

The ECNEC also considered and approved the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Irrigated Agriculture Improvement Project (KP-IAIP) at the cost of Rs30 billion for improvement of 14,260 water courses, installation of 10,000 acres high-efficiency irrigation system, construction of 5,000 water storage tanks, provision of 500 laser land levelers, capacity building, strategic studies and value addition, and project management and monitoring. The project to be completed in six years, would be rolled out in all 26 districts of the province.