Many Rawalpindi projects delayed

RDA, district admin yet to form PMUs for these projects

Qaiser Shirazi May 27, 2020

RAWALPINDI: Several, long-pending development projects which had been scheduled for the ongoing fiscal year in Rawalpindi have now been pushed into the next fiscal year, The Express Tribune learnt on Tuesday.

Some of these projects include mega communication and water supply projects.

An official. with knowledge of the Punjab government’s decision with respect to these projects but who requested anonymity since he was not authorised to speak to the media, said that some of the projects which have been pushed into the next fiscal year included the Rawalpindi Ring Road project, the Leh Expressway project, the Ghazi-Barotha water supply project, the Daducha and Chhamn dams, and the mother and child hospital among others.

Most of these projects had been initially announced by the government over a decade ago when Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi was the chief minister of the province. But they were largely shelved by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government, led by Shahbaz Sharif, which ruled Punjab for a decade between 2008 and 2018.

One of the issues with these projects is that their cost has ballooned by as much as 700 per cent as during this time. Rough estimates suggest that the cost of the Leh Expressway project has surged from Rs17 billion initially to Rs90 billion. The estimated cost of the Ghazi-Barotha water project has escalated to Rs100 billion from initial estimates of Rs37 billion.

Despite the escalation in price, the incumbent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government and the interest shown by Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed – a Rawalpindi native and who was elected from the city, some of the projects, particularly the Ring Road, Expressway and the mother and child hospital projects were included in the annual development programmes of the Punjab government.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had even announced to release funds for some of these pending development projects. However, with the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, which has infected at least 1,474 people in the district and claimed the lives of at least 60 people, funds earmarked for the project were reportedly diverted to fight the virus.

In this regard, the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) and the Rawalpindi district administration – the executing agencies for some of these projects, have yet to establish the project management units (PMUs) of the projects.

Moreover, the government has scheduled and then rescheduled the foundation stone laying ceremonies for some of these projects.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 27th, 2020.


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