Funds’ shortage halts uplift projects

Cost of affected ongoing and future projects is estimated at Rs12.5 billion


Afzal Talib March 12, 2021
The Punjab government in April 2020 released a report, stating that the provincial economy may lose around 4% of its GDP per month due to lockdown. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE:

Citizens in various parts of the provincial capital are facing problems as work on several development projects has been left incomplete for a long time due to delay in release of funds by the Punjab government.

Work on some major projects also could not be initiated due to shortage of funds during recent years. The projects left incomplete are causing inconvenience for the residents and commuters in several areas of the city. Work related to the Orange Line train project was also affected because of the funds constraints. The cost of the affected ongoing and future projects is estimated at around Rs12.5 billion.

The work on four major and two small projects in Lahore has reportedly been made conditional to the availability of funds in the next financial year’s budget. They include an underground water storage project. The major projects of a sports complex and Aik Moriah Bridge have also been delayed.

According to sources, Rs10 billion given by the Punjab government to the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) for the construction work of the Orange Line train project was returned to the finance department. The amount was returned on the direction of the provincial government on the condition that the funds would again be provided from the provincial exchequer to the LDA for four big projects announced by the chief minister.

The chief minister had announced the Sheranwala, Iqbal Town Karim Block, Shahkam Chowk and Gulab Devi underpass projects for the city.

The provincial finance department took back the Rs10 billion and made the release of the amount conditional on the Punjab government's budget for next year.

Similarly, funds for two projects already underway, Aik Moria Bridge and a sports complex, have not been released yet. As a result, the condition of the abandoned structures on which more than 60% of the work has been completed is deteriorating. It has been more than two years since work on both the projects was started and the citizens are facing difficulties due to the incomplete development, although their completion is likely to cost about Rs500 million.

Four major projects to be started by the LDA for the development of the city, including repair work related to the Orange Line train, have been withheld. Work on them has been made conditional on the funds to be allocated in the next budget of Punjab government.

To save the city from damage caused by monsoon rains, a project was planned to build 12 underground water tanks at Amir Road Gaddafi Stadium, FC College, Waris Road, Railway Station, Dayal Singh College, Kashmir Road, Punjab Assembly Parking, Sheranwala Road, Mori Gate and Tajpura at a cost of Rs17 billion.

So far no money has been received from the Punjab government, due to which work on the project to build the underground tanks could not be started, while the next monsoon season is approaching.

When contacted, LDA Vice Chairman S M Imran said work was under way on small and big projects through the available resources. Preliminary work on the mega projects has also been completed.

He said the Punjab government had been requested to release the required funds. “There is a strong possibility that the funds will be released in the current financial year,” e added.

Lahore Water and Sanitation Agency Managing Director Zahid Aziz said the initial work for constructing 12 underground water tanks across the city had been completed ahead of the monsoon season. “As soon as the funds are transferred to us, the work will begin,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 12th, 2021.

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