ISLAMABAD: The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on Friday approved nine development projects at a cost of Rs311 billion, including the revival of the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR), which will be constructed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework.

The meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, approved the revival of the KCR at a rationalised cost of Rs207.5bn. The project was made a part of the CPEC by the governments of China and Pakistan at the 6th joint coordination committee held in December last year.

The project to revive the KCR includes the construction of 24 stations, procurement of 162 locomotives each with a capacity of 250 passengers. The project is expected to serve the commuting needs of 515,000 passengers each day, and is projected to be completed in three years — towards the end of 2020. China will provide a major portion of the financing required for the project. The locomotives will run at an average speed of 45-50 km per hour, and the projected ridership is expected to increase to 750,000 by the year 2030, per day and 915,000 by 2040.

Eight other development projects also okayed

The route of the proposed KCR will be constructed along the existing (abandoned) track which runs through the heart of Karachi’s various densely populated areas such as Shah Faisal Colony, COD, Gulistan-i-Jauhar, NIPA, Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Federal B Area, Manghopir, SITE, Baldia, Orangi, Wazir Mansion, and Chanesar.

The participants in the meeting also approved financial inclusion and infrastructure project at a rationalised cost of Rs14.3bn, and doubling of the railway track from Khanewal to Raiwind (246km) 3rd Revision at a rationalised cost of Rs14.2bn.

For Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a Provincial Roads Rehabilitation Project was approved at a projected cost of Rs17.1bn. The participants of the meeting also approved remodelling of the Warsak Canal System in Peshawar and Nowshera District (Revised) at a rationalised cost of Rs 11.1bn. The cost of remodelling the canal system will be shared equally between the federal government and the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

An education project, expected to cost Rs3.57bn, was approved for Balochistan. The project aims to increase student enrolment, with a special emphasis on education for girls in 31 districts of Balochistan.

Ecnec also approved the construction of a four-lane bridge across the River Indus that would link Layyah with Taunsa, including two-lane approach roads and river training works (24.272 km) at a rationalised cost of Rs9.8bn. Ecnec directed the National Highways Authority to work out a master plan for future bridges to be constructed across the country.

The participants in the meeting also approved the construction of Rathoa Haryam Bridge and approaches across the reservoir channel on Mirpur-Islamgarh Road (2nd Revision) at a rationalised cost of Rs6.5bn.

In addition, Ecnec approved the Prime Minister’s Youth Training Scheme 2015-17 at a total cost of Rs26.6bn.

Published in Dawn, October 7th, 2017

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