ISLAMABAD: The Central Development Working Party (CDWP) on Thursday cleared a total of four development projects — including a major road project of the western route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) — involving a total cost of more than Rs97 billion.
The CDWP meeting, presided over by Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar, formally approved three projects with cumulative cost of Rs913 million while recommended two larger development projects of about Rs96.4bn to the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec).
Under the current financial powers, the CDWP can only approve projects costing no more than Rs3bn while it examines on technical grounds the projects of higher estimated costs and recommends them for formal approval to Ecnec.
As such, the CDWP cleared Rs79bn worth of Quetta-Zhob Section on the Western Route of CPEC on technical grounds but constituted a two member committee to rationalise the cost of land acquisition within two weeks before seeking its formal approval from the Ecnec.
Briefing the CDWP, the Ministry of Communications said the road project, commonly known as N-50, had two components including the construction and dualisation of road, Kuchlaq-Zhob Section of N-50 worth Rs67.638bn and land acquisition for the said project worth Rs11.342bn.
Some participants of the meeting noted that the cost of land acquisition appeared to be unrealistic. The officials explained that the cost of land was estimated at slightly over Rs9bn if acquired before the close of next fiscal year. However, since the process of land acquisition would be completed in three years owing to financial constraints, the relevant authorities had assumed the costing over three years.
The committee, therefore, constituted a two member committee comprising member infrastructure of the Planning Commission and Secretary Communications to rationalise the land acquisition cost within two weeks and submit it to the Ecnec for approval. The committee recommended the road construction project worth Rs67.64bn to the Ecnec for approval. An official statement said the forum constituted a committee comprising stakeholders to confirm and rationalise the cost and scope of 305km road project in two separate parts.
The minister alleged during the meeting that the previous government did not focus on developing western route but the present government attached priority to construction of western route and improving socio-economic condition of neglected areas. He said the completion of project will contribute to smooth and efficient movement of goods and traffic in relatively shorter time.
The meeting also discussed an energy sector project of the Power Division for interconnection of Isolated Gwadar and Makran Area with National Grid System of Pakistan. It cleared the Rs17.421bn worth of project on technical grounds and referred to Ecnec for approval.
The meeting noted that it was an important project for Gwadar development connecting southern remote region with the national grid and since unavailability of electricity was one of the major hindrances in development of Gwadar, the interconnection facility would help address the project. The project is expected to be completed in three years by the Quetta Electric Supply Company (Qesco).
The CDWP approved two projects worth Rs913m and gave concept clearance of two environment related projects for negotiations with the donors.
The CDWP approved the ‘Strengthening of Technical Capacity of Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination’ project worth Rs418.717m. In Physical Planning & Housing sector, the meeting approved Construction of Accommodation for HQ Gilgit-Baltistan Scouts and 114 Wing at Chilas worth Rs493.869m to provide security services for Diamer Basha dam project.
Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2019