PESHAWAR: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government has proposed multiple alternative routes for the western alignment of the multibillion dollar CEPC which will pass through the northern areas of the province.
The K-P government’s planning and development department communicated the proposals last week via a letter to the Federal Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms, requesting it to include the proposals in the CPEC portfolios. A copy of the letter is available with The Express Tribune.
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The K-P government has proposed three land routes and a railway track as the additional alternative routes of the CPEC. These routes connect Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) – the entry point of CPEC in Pakistan – to its terminal point in Balochitsan’s Gwadar port via the western alignment of the CPEC.
The first route proposes to link the G-B to Gwadar through Shandor, Chitral, Chakdara, Peshawar, Kohat, Dera Ismail Khan, Zhob and Quetta. The second route proposes to link the G-B to Gwadar through Bisham, Shangla, Buner, Katlang, Swabi, Mardan, Peshawar, Kohat, Dera Ismail Khan, Zhob and Quetta.
The third route starts from the G-B and ends on Gwadar after passing through Bisham, Shangla, Buner, Katlang, Swabi, Mardan, Peshawar, Kohat, Dera Ismail Khan, Zhob and Quetta.
The K-P has also proposed an alternative railway track connecting Gilgit with Shangla and Dargai via Shandor. It maintains that the alternative routes to Gwadar should not only be in Punjab and Sindh but should start right from Gilgit and these routes would provide a second and third passage to ensure access to the Central Asian Countries via Afghanistan.
The documents state that the Karakoram Highway (KKH) remains closed twice or thrice a year due to heavy snowfall and recurring landslides, while these alternative routes will keep the transport running throughout the year. The routes cover the militancy-hit Malakand Division of K-P and will boost business and economic activities in the region, it claims.
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The K-P has also asked the federal government to help in financing the Swat Expressway which the K-P government is constructing to link the Islamabad Peshawar Motorway M-1 with Malakand division.
The letter says the routes would also explore tourism resorts of the K-P, while the railway route proposed by the K-P would serve as uninterrupted communication line with China in case of land-sliding or other natural disaster on the KKH.
It says the Khunjerab railway line, running parallel to the KKH and connecting Havelian to Khunjrab pass is technically weak. The alternative railway track proposed by the K-P government would be connected to the existing railway track at Dargai and moved onwards to Zhob and Gwadar. “Some missing track between Tank district and Zhob would need to be laid. The project seems viable and the federal government should conduct a study on it,” it states.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2016.
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