ISLAMABAD: The federal and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments on Friday agreed to jointly push forward inclusion of more development projects in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

At a meeting here Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal and KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak also decided to finalise by June this year agreements on the Circular Railway Peshawar, Rashkai Industrial Zone and Gilgit-Chitral Road.

The meeting also discussed issues confronting smooth implementation of the $1.8 billion Sukki Kinari Hydropower project of 874MW, Chashma Power Plant and Warsak Canal and asked the agencies concerned to address whatever hiccups there might be.

The meeting also approved revised and remodelled design and project details of the Warsak Gravity Canal and Warsak Left Canal system.

The project is aimed at increasing the water flow from 500 cusec to 810 cusec and help irrigate thousands of acres of lands and provide clean drinking water to Peshawar City and Hayatabad Township.

According to an official statement, Mr Iqbal expressed satisfaction over the pace of development in new KP-based projects that were made part of the CPEC during the Pak-China Joint Cooperation Council (JCC) meeting in Beijing in December last year.

He told the chief minister that had his government opted to become part of the CPEC framework at the early stage instead of joining the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s protest sit-in in Islamabad, these projects would have reached an advanced stage by now.

The chief minister, however, complained that Mr Iqbal had not attempted to convince the provincial government about the CPEC and how his province could benefit from it.

Mr Iqbal informed Mr Khattak that the CPEC had already started linking various parts of the country and these linkages would tremendously contribute to the country’s uplift, economic development and trade promotion. For example, he said the travel time between Quetta-Gwadar had been reduced to eight hours now instead of a tedious travel that took a couple of days earlier.

He said conspiracies to pitch the centre and provinces against each other had now been foiled with cooperative attitude and understanding shown by both the Centre and provinces, adding that it would now lead to advancement of the agenda of development.

He said the special industrial zones to be set up by Chinese in Pakistan would absorb local raw material and Pakistan would emerge as an industrial and commercial hub in the region.

The chief minister invited the federal ministry to join his provinces’ road show in Beijing next month. The minister agreed to attend the event.

Informed sources said the provincial government had identified 6-7 power hydropower projects of about 2,000MW generation capacity for inclusion in the CPEC framework going forward. These projects had an estimated cost of about $7 billion besides setting up of an oil refinery in Kohat.

These sources said the KP government had planned to present about 80 development projects, including those discussed and cleared at the Friday meeting in the Beijing Road Show. The Greater Peshawar Circular Railway Project of about $1.6 billion will be presented in the Beijing Road Show next month. The 200km project is expected to link Peshawar, Charsadda, Nowshera and Mardan triangle.

Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2017