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MANSEHRA: The federal government has sanctioned an amount of Rs33 billion for the construction of first phase of motorway from Hassanabdal to Havelian and work on this mega project would be started soon, said Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Mohammad Yousuf while speaking at a public gathering in Balakot on Saturday.

“Nawaz Sharif has sanctioned Rs33 billion for the launch of Pak-China Motorway Project and work on this mega development project would be started soon,” the minister said.

He said that economic conditions in the country would improve as a result of the recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) reached between the governments of Pakistan and China. He said that the approval of Rs33 billion for launching work on the Hassanabdal-Havelian section of Pak-China Motorway was part of the MoU.

“The project is part of the overall plan of the government to boost the economic condition of people,” said Mr Yousuf.

The minister claimed that the government was well aware of the problems the people of Balakot had been facing since 2005 earthquake.

He said that the reconstruction projects, which had been started following the earthquake, would be completed by the federal government.

He said that the prime minister had also sanctioned Rs3 billion for early completion of the reconstruction projects.

He said that schools destroyed in Oct 2005 earthquake would be given preference in the reconstruction strategy.

“The reconstruction work of schools, which was suspended because of unavailability of funds, would be given priority in the reconstruction strategy,” he said.

He said that the government would soon start repair work of Mansehra-Naran-Jalkhad road to facilitate people of Balakot and Kaghan valley. He claimed that like general elections the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz would also sweep the local government elections, particularly in Mansehra.

Local leaders of the party, including MPA Waliur Rehman, also spoke on the occasion.

BLAST VICTIM DIES: A first year student, who was injured in a bomb blast on Jail Road on Dec 24, succumbed to his injures in hospital here on Saturday.

Saleem Sajjad, 17, was admitted to the Ayub Medical Complex, Abbottabad, in critical condition.

A policeman was killed and three other people, including Mr Sajjad, had received critical injuries when a remote-controlled device exploded near a police van on Dec 24.

Besides a large number of local people, district police officer Khurram Rashid also attended the funeral prayers of Mr Sajjad at Ganda area on Jail Road.