ISLAMABAD: The much-awaited Main Line 1 project of Pakistan Railways finally came under discussion of the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) of the Planning Commission (PC) on Saturday, which referred the $7.2 billion project to the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) for approval.

The CDWP meeting, chaired by PC Deputy Chairman Muhammad Jehanzeb Khan considered projects worth Rs227.20 billion and approved 13 projects costing Rs36.18bn in energy, physical planning and housing and science and technology.

The projects referred to Ecnec include ML-1 and four projects worth Rs184bn related to the transport and communications sectors.

The ML-1 starts from Karachi, passes through Kotri-Hyderabad, Rohri, Multan, Lahore, and Rawalpindi and terminates at Peshawar. It is 1,872km long, including the 55km Taxila-Havelian section and 91km Lodhran-Khanewal.

The project envisages upgradation of ML-1, establishment of a dry port near Havelian Railway Station; upgradation of Pakistan Railway Academy Walton in Lahore; passenger facilities development of important stations, including Karachi, Hyderabad and Rohri in Sindh; Multan, Lahore and Rawalpindi in Punjab; and Nowshehra and Peshawar in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Refers ML-1 to Ecnec for approval

The CDWP considered two projects in the energy sector and approved the establishment of a 132kV grid station at Bin Qasim Industrial Park worth Rs1.493bn. The project is to provide uninterrupted power supply at affordable rates to the respective Special Economic Zone (SEZ). The second plan given green light was the replacement of LT Bare Conductor with ABC Cable in Peshawar, Khyber and Bannu circle worth Rs2.806bn.

In physical planning and housing, the CDWP approved the development of Ziarat Town in Balochistan worth Rs1.180bn which will focus on long-term policies keeping in view the current scenario and future requirements. Another Rs4.545bn was okayed for the construction of a new campus of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics to function as an apex ‘Center of Excellence for Research and Postgraduate Teaching’ in Islamabad.

In the science and technology sector, the establishment of the second phase of University of Turbat worth Rs1.456bn was approved. The provision of missing facilities at the University of Swabi’s new campus site project was greenlighted at Rs1.386bn.

Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2020

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