ISLAMABAD: An amount of Rs50 million from the national kitty will be spent to give the country’s prime minister a “short, direct and hassle free” approach to an adjoining helipad from his official residence.
Documents obtained by The Express Tribune suggest that the Development Working Party (DWP) of the capital’s civic agency has approved the project, titled ‘Construction of Approach Road from Prime Minister House to Helipad of Presidency’.
The plan involves the construction of a 0.5 kilometre-long, 30-foot wide road from gate 3 of the Prime Minister Office (PMO) to the helipad, located adjacent to the President House.
The PM House currently lacks this facility, and the premier used to travel three extra miles from his official residence before boarding the aircraft. The decision was originally taken during the previous PPP government; however, former PM Yousaf Raza Gilani had abandoned the undertaking.
The decision has been taken at a time when a recent report of the Federal Directorate of Education lamented that a due to lack of proper infrastructure in public educational institutes in Islamabad, the dropout rate among students was on the rise every year.
Interestingly, the government claims to have insufficient funds to make functional the much delayed Bhara Kahu Degree College. Due to this alleged lack of funds, the federal government till December 2015 only released Rs3.7 million out of the total promised Rs9 million for the ongoing financial year.
An education expert believes that Rs50 million is enough to construct a new degree college in Islamabad.
“The proposed road is a safe and short route connecting the PM Office with Aiwan-e-Sadr,” reads the document, adding that Rs37.1 million will be spent on road work, Rs3.5 million on electrical and mechanical work, Rs5.2 million on horticulture work along the road, and Rs2.9 million on the installation of lights. After its completion, the project will also incur and annual recurring expense of approximately Rs2 million.
Documents suggest that an initial environmental examination of the project has also been done, in which the project has been described as feasible. The proposed road will stretch from the PM Secretariat and pass north of the Supreme Court’s car park before ending at the Presidency.
Due to its fragile financial situation, the capital’s civic agency had earlier requested that the government fund the project through the Public Sector Development Program. “[The request] was returned with a direction that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) may avoid further correspondence on the issue and take up the project without any further delay and execute it out of its own resources,” the document reads.
Now, the CDA will undertake the road’s construction at its own expense. According to a press statement issued by the CDA on Thursday, the project is among six development schemes approved during the 38th meeting of the CDA and DWP, held at authority’s headquarters.
The meeting was presided over by the CDA Chairman Maroof Afzal, and attended by CDA board members, senior officers from the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform, as well as the Capital Administration and Development Division.
“PC-I of construction of approach road from gate 3 of PMO to helipad of Aiwan-e-Sadar has also been approved,” said the statement, adding that all administrative buildings and interlink roads in the area have already been completed except the said road.
Dr Mussadiq Malik, the PM’s spokesperson, was contacted for comment but did not respond till the filing of this report.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2016.