PESHAWAR: The land required for setting up New Balakot City was acquired and payment to 90 per cent landowners was made, a high level meeting was told here on Thursday.
An official statement said that estimated cost of the project was about Rs15 billion. Chief Minister Mahmood Khan chaired the meeting, which attended by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lt Gen Akhtar Nawaz and other senior officials.
The devastating earthquake had shaken the country’s northern parts particularly Hazara and Azad Kashmir in October 2005 that flattened entire Balakot town. The government at that time had announced construction of New Balakot City but future of the project still hangs in balance after lapse of 16 years.
The statement said that chief minister directed the authorities concerned to address legitimate concerns of the earthquake victims of the old Balakot city. He said that restoration of their confidence should be the first priority of the project.
CM directs officials to address concerns of 2005 earthquake victims
He said that the objective of the project was to compensate the victims of old Balakot city and to fulfil the promises made by the government with them.
The chief minister decided to constitute a committee headed by Hazara commissioner to come up with workable proposals and way forward after consultation with the people affected by the earthquake within the next 15 days.
In light of the recommendations of the committee, final plan would be submitted to prime minister for approval. Other members of the committee include secretary communication and works besides representatives of Erra, Perra, Nespak, NDMA and other agencies concerned.
Mahmood Khan said that the project had already been delayed so there was no space for further delay in its completion. He directed the committee to clearly define the responsibilities of all the agencies and departments concerned for enforcement of the project and formulate realistic timeline for each and every developmental activity.
Earlier, the meeting was briefed about the feasibility study and the proposed master plan of the project.
It was informed that New Balakot was being established in Bakriyal village of Mansehra district, situated at the distance of 1.6-km from newly built Hazara Motorway. The project has been divided into different sectors out of which development of two sectors has been completed.
According to the proposed master plan, New Balakot is being established over an area of 8440 kanals of land and 6,753 residential plots will be developed out of which 4,273 have been reserved for the victims of old Balakot while 700 have been reserved for the residents of Bakriyal.
These plots would be handed over to the victims free of cost. Besides, 575 commercial plots would also be developed in the new city.
Published in Dawn, June 11th, 2021