ISLAMABAD: Almost a week before transfer of power to a caretaker set-up, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on Tuesday approved nine development projects worth Rs775 billion.

The Ecnec meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, approved revised costs of two major water sector projects worth Rs523.47bn.

It approved fourth revised PC-1 of the Neelum-Jhelum Hydroelectric Project at an updated cost of Rs506.808bn. The cost estimates for the project have been jacked up four times since 2002 when the plant was projected to be completed at a cost of Rs84.5bn.

The estimated cost was revised to Rs277.5bn in 2012 to accommodate changes in design and geography caused by the 2005 earthquake. This was followed by approval of a revised cost of Rs404bn in 2015.

Earlier this month, the Central Develop­ment Working Party had approved a revised cost of Rs500bn and ordered a third party validation of costs to ascertain value for money and causes of cost overruns against a demand for about Rs507bn cost approval by the project authorities.

Approval accorded to revised cost of Neelum-Jhelum Hydroelectric Project and Sukkur Barrage rehabilitation project

The meeting also appro­ved phase II of the Sindh Barrages Improvement Project at a cost of Rs16.663bn. The project involves rehabilitation and modernisation of Sukkur Barrage to render its headworks serviceable for next 40 years and enhance its capacity from 0.9 million cusecs to 1.3m cusecs.

The World Bank is providing about 80 per cent of the project funding while remaining 20pc is equally shared by the federal and Sindh governments.

Commissioned in 1932, Sukkur Barrage has rendered services for 85 years, substantially higher than its anticipated life span of 60 years.

Ecnec also approved the Devolved Vertical Program­mes in Health Sector in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtun­khwa, Sindh and Balochis­tan at a cost of Rs131.787bn.

These programmes incl­ude the National Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Programme, National Progr­amme for Family Planning and Primary Healthcare, National Tuberculosis Con­trol, PM’ Programme for Prevention and Control of Hepatitis, Rollback Malaria Programme, National Pro­gramme for Prevention and Control of Avian, Pandemic Influenza and Blindness.

The meeting also appro­ved 220kV Mastung substation along with 220kV Sibi-Mastung-Quetta-Loralai double circuit transmission lines at a cost of Rs14.155bn.

It also approved a modified PC-II for purchase of land for the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics in Islamabad at a cost of Rs3.52bn and phase-III of Overseas Scholarship Scheme for 2,000 doctorates (PhD) in selected fields at a cost of Rs22.2bn.

In social sector, a project for the establishment of the Centre of Neuroscience at Pakistan Institute of Medi­cal Sciences in Islamabad was approved at a cost of Rs7.285bn.

Ecnec also approved second revised PC-1 for construction of Darawat dam at a revised capital cost of Rs11.768bn and the revision in the cost of construction of 184km Faisalabad-Khane­wal Motorway (M-4) project at updated cost of Rs60.8bn.

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2018