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ISLAMABAD: The prime minister’s decision to fund the Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) signal-free Islamabad Expressway project through the 2018-19 Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) has concerned the authority, which had originally asked for a Rs10.7bn grant to complete the project.

The CDA had asked Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for a grant of Rs10.7bn to complete the remaining portions of the project – to widen the expressway from the Koral interchange to Naval Anchorage and from Naval Anchorage to T-Chowk, Rawat.

Although the prime minister approved funding for the project, he directed for the scheme to be scrutinised by the Planning Commission’s Central Development Working Party (CDWP) and Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec).

Civic body will have to revise PC-I for Planning Commission’s approval; process can take three months, officials say

CDA officials told Dawn that this project is a CDA project, approved by the CDA’s CDWP. However, the prime minister’s decision to fund it through the PSDP will require that it be scrutinised by the Planning Commission, which takes three to six months.

Officials said the CDA requires funding for the project urgently, and has already started the tendering process for invitations for the prequalification of companies for the remaining portions of the project.

“Since the ongoing project was a CDA project approved by the CDA-CDWP, we sought a special grant from the prime minister. Now we have to revise the PC-I to be approved by the Planning Commission,” a CDA engineer said.

He added that the authority is considering whether to approach the prime minister for the exclusion of the project from the PSDP and for a special grant.

When contacted, Project Director Mumtaz Hussain said the CDA had been seeking a grant. “Now we have to revise our PC-I to get the Planning Commission’s approval,” he added. CDA Chairman Usman Bajwa had asked the prime minister for a grant for the project this March.

A letter recently issued by the Prime Minister’s Office and available with Dawn had announced that the prime minister had directed the Ministry of Finance to release a token Rs1bn in the ongoing financial year as a supplementary development grant to allow the CDA to initiate work immediately.

He had also directed that Rs7bn be allocated for the project in the 2018-19 PSDP, while Rs2.75bn will be allocated in the 2019-20 PSDP.

The Islamabad Expressway, which has been widened from Zero Point to Koral will be expanded from Koral to the G.T. Road in two packages.

The first package will consist of expanding the road from the Koral interchange to Naval Anchorage – a five kilometre stretch – while the second package will cover the 7km distance from Naval Anchorage to the G.T. Road.

The prime minister has directed the CDA to complete the first package by June 2019 and the second by Sept 30, 2019.

“Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms, Finance Division and CDA shall take further action accordingly for implementations of prime minister orders,” the letter, which was addressed to the Capital Administration and Development Division, the CDA and the ministries of finance and planning, said.

The project to widen the expressway was inaugurated by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in July 2015. Under the original PC-I, the expressway was to be widened to five lanes from Zero Point to the G.T. Road in Rawat, linking in to Motorway II, within two years, in order to make a signal-free corridor.

The CDA in 2015 changed the PC-I and decided to execute the project in phases due to financial constraints. The first phase consisted of widening 4km of the expressway from Zero Point to Faizabad. In the second phase the road was widened up to Koral Chowk.

The CDA will expand the existing four lanes from Koral interchange to Naval Anchorage to eight, by adding two rigid lanes and rehabilitating flexible lanes. Three bridges – at Korang, Bhinder and the Railways stop – will also be constructed, as well service roads.

In the final package, the existing four lanes will be widened to eight, the Soan Bridge will be widened and a flyover will be constructed at the G.T. Road. Two underpasses, on the Kahuta and Japan roads, will also be built.

Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2018