SAHIWAL, Sept 26: The demand of Qutab Shahana village residents that a road planned to connect Sahiwal city to the under-construction Qutab Shahana bridge on River Ravi must run through their village was hard to meet on technical grounds.
It is learnt that in the project’s master plan the Madhali road has been given a curve from Orangabad village, one and a half kilometers ahead of Qutab Sahana village, depriving the residents of the facility to get connected to the city as well as the bridge.
The facility could have been provided to the residents if the planned 28-foot wide double-lane road was given a sharp turn from Qutab Shahana village instead of curving it from Orangabad.
A three-member committee formed by the Punjab government and headed by communication and works minister Tanveer Islam is reviewing the master plan to suggest alteration to it, if found necessary. Highway chief engineer Mushtaq Ahmed and C&W Secretary Javed Ilyas are the other two members of committee.
However, the local and provincial highway department high-ups are of the view that it would not be technically feasible to accommodate the village residents’ demand.
Highway Department Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO) Fateh Muhammad Watoo told Dawn that in the master plan developed by provincial P&D department the road was given a right curve (from Orangabad) to directly link it with the bridge.“The curve was designed technically keeping in view the expected traffic speed on the 28-foot-wide two-way road”, he said. If the road would be given a curve from Qutab Shahana village, not only its angle would be dangerously sharp for the fast-moving traffic, but it would also cause hindrance to the flow of traffic coming from and going towards the bridge, he explained.
Construction of Qutab Shahana bridge on River Ravi was a long-standing demand of the residents of Sahiwal and its surrounding areas.
Presently, the districts of Sahiwal, Pakpattan and Haroonabad are connected with Faisalabad through Noor Shah and Mari Pattan bridge on the river.
After construction of the bridge, the total distance between Sahiwal and Faisalabad would be reduced to just 49kms from the present 82Kms.
The previous PML-N government in Punjab had allocated Rs1,631 million for the bridge construction and widening of 15km Madhali Road.
Of the allocated amount, a sum of Rs919 million would be spent on the construction of 1,650-foot-long bridge, while Rs930 million would be spent on converting Madhali Road into a two-lane track.
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif laid the foundation stone of the bridge in March 2013 near the Comprehensive School.
Sources said Arshad Khan Lodhi, who got elected MPA on PML-N ticket in the last election, was approached by his constituents from Qutab Shahana village who demanded alteration in the master plan.
Highway SE Rana Basharat told Dawn that the committee members visited Sahiwal on Sept 6 and had a detailed meeting with stakeholders from both Qutab Shahana and Oranagabad villages led by elected representatives, including MPA Malik Arshad Lodhi, MNA Chaudhry Ashraf and MPA Malik Nadeem Kamran. The committee members also visited the two sites.
Rana Basharat told Dawn that the committee had yet not submitted its findings.
A senior officer of the local highway department said for technical reasons the master plan could not be changed.
SDO Wattoo said the committee was also analysing pros and cons of a proposal under which Qutab Shahana residents could be give access to the main Madhali road, connecting them with the proposed bridge.
“But this will be done without altering the original Madhali road widening plan”, the SDO added.
Mr Basharat told Dawn though there was no timeframe for the three-member committee to submit its findings, it would soon decide the issue.
The bridge is being built on the traditional route that had been is use since 1857 by the British to reach Gogera.