ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf urged the National Highway Authority (NHA) on Saturday to accord priority to completing communication projects in Balochistan to integrate the province with the rest of the country and accelerate economic activity there.
Ashraf made these remarks while chairing a meeting to review the progress of NHA’s mega projects at the prime minister house.
He said that projects, which are near completion, should be completed on a fast track basis so that the burden on Public Sector Development Programmes (PSDP) was minimised, adding that early completion of these projects was essential to minimise the impact of inflation as well.
Minister for Communication, Dr Arbab Alamgir apprised Ashraf that the NHA has initiated 79 mega projects across the country worth over Rs600 billion. Of these, 33 projects were being executed in the Punjab, 17 in Sindh, 14 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 12 in Balochistan and three in Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir.
Speaking about ongoing projects, Dr Alamgir said that mega projects of Faisalabad-Khanewal-Multan (M-4) in the Punjab, Lyari Express in Sindh, Naran-Jhalkand N-15 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Kalat-Quetta-Chaman N-25 in Balochistan and West Bank Bypass in Muzaffarabad, would be completed by the end of this year.
Referring to work on the Attabad Lake Project, Ashraf said that the project was discussed with the Chinese during his recent visit to China.
The Chinese premier has assured that China would ship all necessary equipment to Pakistan to ensure that work was carried out as per international standards and completed on time.
Ashraf said that considering the importance of the project, he would visit Attabad Lake site, once necessary equipment and mobilisation was completed.
He also directed Ministry of Communications to expedite the work on Lowari Tunnel, saying, “ It is a very strategic project as its completion would open access to Tajikistan, an important Central Asian State.” Pakistan has been pushing for a trade link with Central Asia and the Lowari tunnel presents a key link for Pakistan in that endeavour.
The meeting was attended by Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira, Parliamentary Secretary Chaudhry Saeed Iqbal, Chief Secretary Balochistan Babar Yaqoob Fateh, , Chairman NHA Syed Ali Gardezi, Member Planning NHA Raja Nowsherwan Sultan, IG FC Maj Gen Obaid Ullah Khan, DG FWO Maj Gen Javed Mehmood Bokhari and the Secretaries of relevant Ministries.
The National Highway Authority (NHA) will spend Rs8550.425 million on improvement and widening of Nowshehra-Chitral Highway (N-45),
“Improvement and widening of Chakdara-Timergrah-Dir-Chitral (141 km) section” is a new project which will complete left over sections of the project “improvement of N-45 for dualisation, rehabilitation and reconstruction” which was undertaken in 2006 at the cost of Rs2,399 million, said a source in the Ministry of Communications.
“Regarding the new project, global PC-I worth Rs9,202.488 million, was discussed by Central Development Working Party (CDWP) in October2011 and PC-I was recommended with revised scope of work with rationalised cost of Rs8550.425 million,” he said.
“Takhtbai flyover project was also included in the PC-I of theproject,” he added, “however the commencement of work on the project,he said, depends on approval by ECNEC and allocation of funds.
“A durable and effective communications infrastructure is very important for the promotion of trade, tourism, industry and agriculture in Swat and Malakand areas, and the Ministry of Communications is carrying out construction activity on priority basis in these areas where people have suffered great hardships,” he added.