CHITRAL: The construction of the 35km long Booni-Buzund Torkhow Road in upper Chitral is stuck in slow lane with the officials blaming it on shortage of funds in the last 10 years.

The officials fear that the work would take many more years due to the disinterest of the government, which has allocated no funds for it in the current fiscal.

The officials told Dawn that the road, construction, widening and blacktopping was a Public Sector Development Project scheme of the communication and works department and work on it began in 2008.

They said the project was executed with the initial funding of Rs350 million on the orders of the thenprime minister, who was approached by former Chitral MNA Shahzada Mohyuddin.

Officials blame it on shortage of funds

A source in the C&W department told Dawn that the detailed cost estimate (DCE) of the project proved to be defective and not in conformity with the topographical details of the road site due to which 30 percent of the cutting rocks and excavation of earth was completed, the total amount of the project utilised.

He said the road project involved cutting of steep rock in five kilometers, construction of four bridges and land compensation to the owners of land from the villages of Istaru, Werkup, Rayeen, Shagram and Buzund which had not been included in the DCE of the project. The project was abandoned by the department for a couple of years after its funds were utilised. However, the intervention of Shahzada Mohyuddin’s son and then MNA Shahzada Iftikharuddin led to its inclusion in the 2014-15 PSDP.

The project was re-designed and detailed cost estimate was evolved as per which it was Rs1108.42 million approved by the Central Development Working Party of the federal government on March 2015 but work began next year as the provincial government had yet to decide about the agency to execute it.

Former MNA Shahzada Iftikharuddin told Dawn that the federal government was to release the amount to the province in piecemeal as per procedure of the PDSP in vogue and it was where the problem popped up.

He said the finance department did not apply for the next installment on time by fulfilling the codal formalities, while bickering ensued between the federal and provincial governments each time on it causing delay.

“The finance department further delayed the release of funds received from the federal government to the C&W department by five to seven months every time and it was due to the fact that during the fiscal year 2016, only Rs100 million were utilised out of the released amount of Rs250 million and the rest was to be surrendered back,” he said.

The former MNA said the same situation prevailed the following year and out of Rs200million, the C&W department could utilise only Rs100 million and the rest lapsed.

He feared that the project would be delayed further as the federal government had released not a single penny for the remaining period of the current fiscal year, while the department had demanded an amount of Rs156 million.

Mr Iftikharuddin said work on the site had been stopped; the construction firm had removed machinery from the site, and hundreds of landowners awaited payments.

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2018