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ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to revive the Leh Nullah Expressway and Flood Channel project which was initiated during Pervez Musharraf’s regime but was shelved by PML’s provincial government in 2008.

According to a letter issued by Secretary to the Prime Minister Mohammad Azam Khan, Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has been appointed the focal person for the stalled project.

The letter, sent to the chief secretary Punjab and secretary planning and development, said if the feasibility study gave green signal to the project, the railway minister would proceed further in consultation with Ministry of Planning and Development and the Punjab government.

The project, a brainchild of Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, was initiated in March 2007 at an estimated cost of Rs16 billion by the then president Gen Pervez Musharraf. The fresh feasibility study will determine cost of the project afresh.

At that time, it was planned that the expressway would be 22km-long signal-free and would be built on both sides of Leh Nullah from Rawalpindi to Islamabad.

The expressway involved interchanges at Katarian Bridge, Tipu Road and Ammar Chowk. Eight flyovers and 10 bridges were to be constructed on the expressway.

After becoming part of the PTI government, Sheikh Rashid wanted to revive the project, and the Rawalpindi Development Authority reopened the file of the project.

It is expected that RDA would be involved in the fresh feasibility of the project for which funds would be provided by the federal and Punjab governments.

The other day, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed had indicated that the new Islamabad International Airport would be linked with the Leh Nullah expressway through railway track.

Railway track exists upto Fatehjang and a few kilometres of track would be required to connect the airport with Rawalpindi Railway Station.

An official of Pakistan Railways, however, said the rail link with the airport appears to be unfeasible since the exclusive dual track would require a shuttle service whereas the volume of passengers would not be enough.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2018

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