MURREE: With its tenure over, the PML-N government did not see through even a single mega project announced for Murree or Kotli Sattian.
NA-57 includes Murree, Kotli Sattian and Kahuta. Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has been elected from this constituency seven times. It includes some very backward areas where there are no roads, drinking water or electricity.
Addressing a public meeting in 2013 at GPO Chowk in Murree, former prime minister and PML-N head Nawaz Sharif had promised a number of mega projects for Murree. These included a state of the art university, a medical college and a paramedical institute at Samli, railways from Islamabad to Murree and on to Muzaffarabad, a cable car from Bostal Mor Expressway to Murree, parking facilities and water supply.
Murree residents were promised a university, medical college, railways, cable car, parking facilities and water supply
Not one of these projects have been completed so far. Construction work was started on a hospital near the general bus stand but the status of the project is unclear.
The major water supply to the hill station comes from the Donga Gali scheme, which was set up by the British some 100 years ago.
During the tenure of General Pervez Musharraf, the then Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi had launched a mega project for supplying water from Jhelum River to Murree at the cost of Rs5 billion.
A considerable amount of the fund was spent on the project, known as the Neelum-Jhelum Bulk Water Supply Scheme when it was stopped by the new Punjab government led by Shahbaz Sharif.
The PML-N government in Punjab allocated funds for the project in its first two budgets but then stopped. After directions were passed by the high court, it was promised that the project will be restarted. It has been nine years since and the project has yet to be started and in the meantime, the pipelines, generators and other machinery to be used in the project and worth millions have been damaged.
Former prime minister Abbasi had expressed intentions for setting up a modern university before his assumption of office. According to his close aide and former special assistant at the petroleum ministry, Hafiz Usman Abbasi, land for the university has already been acquired and that construction work will be started after processing by the Higher Education Commission.
There has been no progress on a campus of the Punjab University announced by Shahbaz Sharif in 2012 and the condition of the road from Lower Topa to Kohala Road has also not been improved.
The parking issue faced by the hill resort, especially in the summers, is also yet to be resolved, and the problem is exacerbated due to the many multi-storey hotels constructed in violation of a ban on construction.
A multi-storey parking plaza was proposed at Jhika Gali but after conducting digging and controlling land sliding at the cost of Rs2 billion, the project was abandoned.
Locals had wanted to give Murree the status of a district by including Kotl Sattian, Kahuta and some parts of Kallar Syedan after the recent census found that the population has now increased to that of a district.
When asked, PML-N Murree president and former chairman Murree Municipal Committee Raja Daftar Abbasi said the university project was delayed due to litigation by locals.
He said Tehsil Headquarters Hospital is being upgraded and a new one is under construction.
Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2018