MURREE: A number of roads in Murree have been dug up either for reconstruction or laying pipelines, creating hardship for tourists as well as local commuters.
Lower Topa-Kohala Road has been under construction for more than two years but so far only about 10pc of work has been completed.
The road from Lower Topa to Dewal has also been dug up and closed for commuters.
Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had allocated Rs2.1 billion for the reconstruction of the 23 km road but after digging the road the project could not be launched due to a tussle among the contractors and negligence of the department concerned. Consequently, the funds allocated for the project lapsed.
While in the opposition, especially before the July 2018 elections, local PTI leaders took up the issue and held protests but after coming into power the government failed to expedite work on the project.
The road from Lower Topa to New Murree is used by thousands of motorists in the summer to visit the Patriata chairlift. This road has been dug up by the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines (SNGPL) for laying pipelines.
Local people said laying of pipelines should have been carried out during the winter as due to heavy influx of tourists in the summer the residents are now facing severe problems due to the closure of the road.
The road from Jika Gali is also dug up from Bhurbhan for gas supply in the area.
When contacted, Subdivisional Officer (SDO) Punjab Highway Department Chaudhry Mohammad Arif said only Rs100 million had been released out of the total Rs500 million allocated for the project. He said shortage of funds was the cause of slow pace of work on the road.
Mr Arif said the SNGPL officials had not obtained NOC for digging any highway or road. After filing cases, the highway department succeeded to obtain compensation from the department for reconstruction of the damaged roads. But still the amount is outstanding towards the SNGPL, he added.
Despite repeated attempts, MNA Sadaqat Ali Abbasi could not be contacted for his comments on the delayed projects.
Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2019