Senate body for expediting CPEC projects

Directs SAPM on CPEC affairs to step-up completion of projects under construction

APP September 17, 2021
Umar said the construction of Karachi-Chaman N-25 road project had already been approved. Photo: File


The Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Thursday directed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority to complete the under implementation projects on a fast-track basis by regaining confidence of the Chinese companies.

“According to my personal sources, the Chinese are not happy with the current progress of CPEC projects as they have approached me to help remove the bottlenecks,” said Committee Chairman Senator Saleem H Mandviwala.

He asked Special Assistant to Prime Minister on CPEC Affairs Khalid Mansoor to take responsibility of early completion of projects under construction and removing all bottlenecks in the way of approval of the under consideration mega projects including up-gradation of ML-1 railway project and the hydro power projects.

“My number one priority is to regain the Chinese confidence,” said Mansoor, adding that in this regard he had personally met with representatives of 40 out of 135 Chinese companies working in Pakistan.

“I will take responsibility of implementation of the projects and I will go to all the concerned ministries and divisions myself to implement the CPEC projects,” he added.

Mandwiwala deplored that the government departments were very slow and they needed to be pushed to expedite the implementation process.

Meanwhile, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, responding to the complaints of Senator Danish Kumar about ignoring Balochistan under CPEC, said in the first phase of CPEC, two-third projects were related to power, which had minimum impact on the local area.

He said lot of development work was going on in the province particularly in Gwadar such as desalination plants, technical training institutes, Eastbay Expressway etc. Apart from the projects under CPEC, a special historical package of Rs560 billion had also been announced for the development of least developed southern Balochistan districts under which IT parks, industrial zones, power plants, dams, and road projects would be developed.

He further said, “We are working on four priority Special Economic Zones (SEZs) under CPEC, one of which was being constructed in Gwadar.” The one named south zone has been completed at an area of 60 acres while the other gigantic 2,500 acres north zone is under construction in the city, he added.

He said that 100,000 acres land was lying vacant near Mirani Dam, which would be utilised for agriculture purposes in which some Chinese investors were interested to develop an agriculture zone.

Read Talks begin to roll over $3b CPEC debt

Senator Kumar said that ground realities were that there was no development in the area. The residents of Gwadar were not enjoying basic facilities including water and electricity.

Umar proposed the committee to arrange a visit to southern Balochistan to see the under progress development. Mandviwala questioned how a new project could be included in the current fiscal year’s development budget, the minister responded that once the development budget is approved by the National Economic Council (NEC), it was not possible to add any new project. However, he said that to include any new project in the next development budget, it should be presented before March 31.

Senator Muhammad Tahir Bazinjo said instead of investing heavily on other projects like airport, the investment should be poured in drinking water projects on priority. Further he stressed the need to turn N-25 to motorway as it had become a dangerous road and accidents on that thoroughfare had become a routine matter.

Umar said the construction of Karachi-Chaman N-25 road project had already been approved. The Khuzdar-Kuchlak section of the N-25 would be funded through PSDP while the rest portion would be constructed through Built Operate Transfer (BOT) basis.

Senator Sardar Muhammad Shafiq Tareen said the private sector partnership projects were not implementable. Umar said the present government was fully committed to complete all the projects under BOT basis on priority and the tariff for road taxes would be determined by the government not by the private sector.

Talking about the electricity problem in Gwadar, the minister maintained that the biggest problem was that there was no transmission line connected with the national grid.

“Balochistan government had requested the federal government in this regard and we have given approval for the project for connecting Gwadar with the national grid and the project would be completed by March 2022,” he added.

Further he said that electricity from Iran to Gwadar would also be streamlined and the 300MW coal power plant in Gwadar city was already under construction. “So the electricity problem in the city would be resolved soon.”

Mansoor said two dams in the vicinity of Gwadar including Shadikor dam were filled to their capacity and the connectivity of these dams to Gwadar city would also be completed in three months. He said the water supply was being made through a two-inch pipeline, which was too narrow to fulfill the need. So a 12-inch water pipeline has been approved and was being installed.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2021.

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