ISLAMABAD: The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council approved on Monday 15 development projects with a total estimated cost of Rs333.5 billion.
The committee also approved 70 per cent increase in cost of land for Diamer-Bhasha dam.
A meeting presided over by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar was informed that the original cost of the Diamer-Bhasha dam project was put at Rs60bn in 2008, but it was rejected by the people to be affected by it. Subsequent protests claimed two lives and Wapda offices and other facilities were attacked and set on fire.
Know more: Diamer-Bhasha ‘smartest choice’ for Pakistan: US
Then the prime minister constituted a committee comprising ministers for Kashmir affairs & Gilgit-Baltistan, water and power, labour and manpower and inter-provincial coordination and the deputy chairman of the planning commission to resolve the issue.
After negotiations with the people, the committee revised the cost of raising the land and assets to Rs50bn from Rs33.5bn, providing additional facilities like one kanal, instead of five marla, plots to 4,228 households. The cost of model villages was also increased to Rs8.7bn from Rs3.3bn.
The project envisages acquisition of 37,419 acres of land and resettlement of affected people.
The project’s cost also went up on account of additional safeguard measures demanded by international lenders and an increase in the length of Karakoram Highway.
Ecnec increased the land acquisition and resettlement cost by 69 per cent to Rs101.372bn from Rs60bn earmarked in 2008.
The meeting approved the establishment of National Endowment Scholarships for Talent at a cost of Rs10bn to be met from the PSDPs (2014-18) in line with the Vision 2025. The project will meet the needs of youths and promote vertical social mobility through scholarships.
The committee approved Rs21.697bn for laying 500 KV double-circuit transmission lines for dispersal of electricity from Neelum-Jhelum (969MW), Karot (720MW) and Azad Pattan (650MW) hydropower projects in Azad Kashmir.
It approved Rs5.974bn, including Rs2.729bn foreign exchange component, for Phase 2 of Machine Readable Passport and Machine Readable Visa project which envisages opening of 65 regional passport offices in the country and installation of the MRP system at 83 missions abroad.
Ecnec approved Rs12.260bn, including foreign exchange component of Rs11.366bn, for Land Record Management & Information System (Phase-I) of the Punjab government. The project is funded by the provincial government from its own resources and loans from the World Bank.
The committee cleared a proposal of the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan for a water supply and sewerage scheme for the Mirpur town and hamlets in the periphery of Mangla Dam at a cost of Rs6.99bn. The project will provide 36.36 million gallons of potable water at 57.5 gallons per head per day till 2030.
A proposal of the Ministry of Housing and Works was approved for construction of a new secretariat block at a cost of Rs4.845bn at the Constitution Avenue in Islamabad.
The committee approved Rs17.464bn, including foreign exchange component of Rs12.068bn, for replacement of old and obsolete signal gear from Loldhran-Multan-Khenewal-Shahdara Bagh Main Line Section of Pakistan Railways (revised plan).
Also approved is a proposal for rehabilitation and improvement of railway tracks on Landhi-Kotri, Hyderabad-Mirpur Khas, Kotri-Khanpur, Rohri-Sibi, Lodhran-Pakpattan-Kasur and Khanewal-Shorkot-Sangla Hill-Wazirabad sections at a cost of Rs11.544bn, including foreign exchange component of Rs2.6bn.
The meeting accepted in principle a proposal for procurement and manufacture of 75 diesel and electrical locomotives of different capacities, with environment-friendly engines and electronic fuel injector system, at a cost of Rs46.8bn, including foreign exchange component of Rs32.8bn.
Proposals of the Ministry of Railways to upgrade signalling with computer-based interlocking, auto-block signalling of centralised traffic control system to replace the obsolete signalling system at different sections at a cost of Rs38.263bn and procurement and manufacturing of 780 high capacity bogie hopper wagons and 20 bogie brake vans (phase-1) at a cost of Rs8.863bn were also approved in principle.
The meeting decided to constitute a committee comprising senior officials of planning, finance and railways ministries to see if fiscal space would be available over the next four years for completion of the railway schemes.
Ecnec approved the Sindh Irrigated Agriculture Productivity Enhancement Project at a cost of Rs30.139bn, including a World Bank loan of Rs19.686bn. The project is aimed at reduction of water demand through three types of interventions i.e. water course improvement, improved field irrigation technologies coupled with precision land levelling and adoption of high-efficiency irrigation system and furrow irrigation for improved agricultural productivity among small and medium scale farmers.
The meeting approved a proposal of the Sindh government for construction of water carrier (100 cusecs) from Spinal Drain RD 362 (LBOD) to Nabisar for Thar coal power generation units at a cost of Rs12.472bn.
A Fata Secretariat’s proposal for Fata Water Resources Development Project (funded by the Asian Bank), which will cover areas of Bajaur, Khyber and Mohmand agencies, was approved. It will cost Rs4.816bn. The aim of the project is to supply water for irrigating 4,615 hectares of land with construction of small reservoirs, diversion weirs and conveyance channels.
Published in Dawn March 3rd , 2015
On a mobile phone? Get the Dawn Mobile App: Apple Store | Google Play