ISLAMABAD: The construction of new Islamabad Airport is increasingly becoming embroiled in a host of problems, confusing members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) because every time conflicting details are shared.
On Thursday, members of the PAC, including its chairperson Syed Khursheed Shah, expressed serious concern over poor planning in connection with water supply and availability of electricity in addition to “blunders” in construction of two runways of the airport.
No end in sight for new Islamabad airport
DG Aviation of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Asim Suleiman informed the committee that the PC-I of Rs37 billion, which was the original cost of the project, had been approved in 2008 but it did not include the cost of installing radar, or building air traffic control (ATC) tower, baggage handling area, air field lighting and security system. Thus, the revised PC-1 pushed the cost to Rs81.17 billion, prompting Shah to ask what if it increased again due to further delays.
MNA Sheikh Rashid Ahmed asked the DG if they could share details of a proper road to the airport, including the water, gas and electricity facilities. He said he had lands in the area and nothing had been properly set and “all presentations and details are nothing but just eyewash.”
The “blunder” which came up during the discussion was that two runways had been built with a separating distance of just 201 meters. “Two flights cannot land concurrently which was an error by an American designer,” the DG confessed.
New Islamabad Airport: Minister directs CAA to complete work swiftly
Mahmood quipped that it was a criminal error. Shah asked if the CAA followed “some rules and regulations “.
“Nobody checked it? Internationally, rules of aviation are strictly followed,” he asked. The DG said the airport could handle nine million passengers per year while Karachi could handle six million passengers annually.
The DG stated that two rain harvesting dams were also being built. He said that in the first phase, 282 acres of land was acquired on March 11 this year, for the construction of Ramma dam with a capacity of 3.3 million gallons of water per day. He added that for Kassana dam, land acquisition was underway.
Shahida Akhtar Ali,also a PAC member, asked the DG about the mushrooming growth of housing societies posing threat to human lives and raising security issues in the area. The DG replied that there was no such issue. The DG assured the committee members that the airport’s construction work would be completed by the end of this year.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 6th, 2016.
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