‘Funding’ constraint affecting CPEC infra projects

Senate panel informed uplift work being carried out under PSDP


Haseeb Hanif February 13, 2021
PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

ISLAMABAD:

The Senate Special Committee on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects was informed on Friday that Beijing had not funded any infrastructure project under the flagship mega initiative since 2017.

During the committee meeting, chaired by Senator Dr Sikandar Mandhro, the chief of transport planning at the planning ministry said because of the absence of the CPEC funding, some projects, including Khuzdar-Basima project, were being carried out from the federal development funds.

Committee member Senator Kabir Ahmad Shahi said that only paperwork was carried out on CPEC. “I have been saying this for the last four years that we are taking electricity from Iran and a 300MW project should be started,” he added.

“The project started in a way that a tent was set up with a watchman sitting there. The fence around the New Gwadar International Airport is a shambles,” he said.

However, the senator stressed that there was no need for disappointment with the mega project. “CPEC is our future, it may be delayed but ultimately, everything will be fine,” he said.

The planning ministry officials told the committee that the Gwadar Smart Port City Master plan had been completed with a grant of $4 million. The officials added that the master plan covered 359 square kilometers area. The committee convener asked, “When will the master plan be implemented?”

Senator Kakar said that the projects in the master plan had not been started yet. He opposed installation of barbed wires in Gwadar. Senator Shahi said barbed wires in Gwadar was a violation of human rights.

“Who is erecting fences at different places in Gwadar?” Shahi asked. The planning ministry officials replied that the fence was being erected by the defence ministry. On this, the committee sought clarification on the fencing issue.

Senator Shahi also objected to the term southern and northern Balochistan in official documents. The committee directed that locations in Balochistan be pinpointed, with naming the division or the district.

The committee was informed that the Hubco Coal Power Plant was providing 1,320MW of electricity. Senator Kakar asked why local coal was not being used in power generation.

He added that the country imported coal worth Rs211 billion annually. The committee directed that the use of local resources should be given a priority.

The planning ministry officials told the meeting that the Khushab-Gwadar Motorway had been completed at a cost of Rs38 billion. Senator Shahi said that work on the project was started in 2002, therefore, the project should not be counted among the CPEC projects.

“Everywhere it is stated that M8 is completed. This is not a CPEC project. [Former president Pervez] Musharraf had started it,” he said. “The road has broken down without even a single vehicle plying on it. What will happen if heavy traffic plied on it under CPEC?” he asked. “The road could not endure the load of CPEC [traffic]. Don’t include this project in CPEC.”

Senator Kakar said that the word motorway should not be used for this road. “This is a small road. In fact, he added, there was not a single kilometre of motorway in entire Balochistan. During the meeting, the committee expressed displeasure over the absence of the National Highway Authority (NHA) chairman.


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