KARACHI: The Sindh government is keen to kick-start a number of projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and its top priorities include Karachi Circular Railway, Dhabeji Special Economic Zone and Keti Bunder Seaport development, said Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah.
Talking to a 22-member federal parliamentary delegation, led by MNA Sher Ali Arbab, the chief minister voiced hope that the federal government would support the provincial government in launching these projects.
The meeting was aimed at reaching consensus on CPEC-related projects to be launched in Sindh.
It was pointed out that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) had been signed between the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives and China Development and Cooperation Agency in 2018. According to the agreement, all provinces will share their projects with the Centre in six identified areas.
Shah said his government shared 29 projects in the areas of education, technical and vocational education and training, health, poverty alleviation, clean drinking water, agriculture, livestock and fisheries.
“In relation to agriculture, Chinese experts visited Sindh on December 15 last year to discuss different schemes and conduct field visits,” he said. “The Sindh government was asked to give its consent to the agricultural projects, which was given on January 10, 2020. Remaining five fast-track projects are awaiting visits by the Chinese officials.”
The chief minister told the delegation that preparations for the projects would commence after the visit of Chinese stakeholders.
The five projects include smart classrooms for education, an overseas student scholarship programme, provision of medical equipment to hospitals, upgrading vocational and technical schools, and capacity building of vocational and technical education teachers.
Talking about the Karachi Circular Railway, the chief minister said on the request of Sindh government, it was included in CPEC and the provincial government requested the provision of a sovereign guarantee for handing over Karachi Urban Transport Company to the Sindh government along with transfer of land and alignment of route.
He added the then prime minister had accepted all the requests except for the transfer of land.
Turning to the Dhabeji Economic Zone, the chief minister said his government had earmarked 1,530 acres of land for the development of the economic zone in Thatta, a priority project under CPEC. He added that Keti Bunder Seaport was located about 107 km from Thatta and 150 km from Karachi via Gharo. He called the project very promising in terms of its prospects.
Parliamentary Committee on CPEC Chairman Sher Ali Arbab said socio-economic development projects under CPEC were valued at around $1 billion.
He pointed out that from the shared projects of all provinces, 27 were identified as priority projects and out of these 17 were marked as fast-track projects.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 21st, 2020.