ISLAMABAD: The delay in the approval of revised PC-1 of Jalkhad-Chilas section project worth Rs7.8 billion is causing further delay in its completion and payments of outstanding dues of Rs1.4 billion.
This project, which is pending for the last seven years, will serve as an alternative route to Gilgit-Baltistan. It has national importance in terms of boosting trade, tourism and local business.
It was revealed by the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) senior officials during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Communication held on Monday at the Parliament House.
The FWO officials informed the members of the Senate Standing Committee that revision of the PC-1 coupled with payment of outstanding dues worth Rs1.4 billion are pending with the National Highway Authority (NHA) till date which has caused delay in the completion of the project. Meanwhile the FWO has invested additional funds from its own resources to complete some work, said the officials.
According to documents, Jalkhad-Chilas section, which is 68km long, is the last and most difficult section of Mansehra-Naran-Jalkhad-Chilas road N-15 with a limited working season of four to seven months because of extreme weather conditions during winters.
It was awarded to FWO in November 2004 and is divided into two sections; Jalkhad- Babusar Top section worth Rs976 million which is 28.5km long and Babusar Top-Chilas section worth Rs1.3 billion which is 38km long. Work on both the sections started in January 2005 and was supposed to be completed within four years but it did not.
Due to delay in release of funds the project was then suspended in September 2010 and later re-commenced in September 2012 and has not been completed yet. The FWO officials said that the total liabilities of sublet contractors are Rs1.3 billion; however FWO, in spite of huge liabilities towards NHA, has paid Rs567 million to the sublet contractors during last three months and the remaining amount of Rs744 million will be paid within five to six months.
The FWO assured that by September this year the project will be completed. It will reduce the distance from Rawalpindi to Gilgit-Baltistan by 75 kilometres and the new roadway will cut travel time along the route up to 10 hours. It traverses through Babusar Top linking Naran Valley with Indus Valley.
While responding to this NHA chairman Shahid Ashraf Tarar appreciated the commitment of FWO towards completing the project despite challenges and said that once this project will be completed, it will promote tourism to a great degree.
Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Communication Senator Muhammad Daud Khan Achakzai expressed grave concern over the long delay in completing the project and directed FWO to clear all the liabilities without any further delay.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2016.
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