GILGIT: The 8th Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) meeting of the CPEC has decided to include two hydropower projects, a women university, cancer and cardiac hospitals, a medical college and a logistics hub in Gilgit-Baltistan, besides establishing a special economic zone (SEZ) in Maqpoondas area of Gilgit under the multibillion dollar project.

Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman was also scheduled to attend the JCC meeting held in Beijing from Dec 18 to 20, but he declined to attend it since AJK prime minister, and chief ministers of Punjab, KP and Balochistan were not participating in it. GB secretary planning and development Babar Aman Babar and a representative of GB Board of Investment attended the meeting.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Babar said the JCC had, for the first time, decided to include a 100MW hydropower project near Karakoram International University in Gilgit, an 80MW hydropower project in Phander area of Ghizer and other such projects in the region. The power projects will provide electricity in the shortest possible time and will be of immense benefit to boost tourism, he added.

Special economic zone will be set up near Gilgit

He said that an SEZ would be executed in Maqpoondas area by the Chinese companies.

The official said six sectors in GB identified for socioeconomic development would be funded under the CPEC, including agriculture, poverty alleviation, technical capacity building, education, health and water supply.

The China will provide grant for these projects, he said, adding in the first phase, dollar 300 million had been set aside by the Chinese government.

The secretary planning and development said the Gilgit-Shandur road had also been included in CPEC and its feasibility had almost been finalised by the NHA. This road will have great impact upon the lives and livelihoods of the people of Ghizer district, he added.

Mr Babar said remaining portions of Thakot-Raikot road, specially the portion between Dasu and Raikot, would be rehabilitated through Chinese grant.

He added that an alternative road was being constructed above the present road which would be submerged once the Diamer-Bhasha Dam was built.

This will make the journey comfortable for the residents of GB visiting Islamabad by road, especially during winter, he explained. He said that it had been decided to make the Khunjerab and Babusar passes all-weather for which proper feasibilities would be conducted. The Babusar Pass will be made all-weather by constructing an underground tunnel to make it travel worthy during winter season, he added.

The GB secretary planning and development said in near future, the expressway between Hassan Abdal (Islamabad-Peshawar Motorway) and Thakot would be completed, which will be a great gift for the people of GB as the distance and time to travel between Gilgit and Islamabad would be greatly reduced after this initiative.

Published in Dawn, December 26th, 2018


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