RAWALPINDI: Rawalpindi Ring Road (R3) project was not included in the Annual Development Programme (ADP) of the Punjab government and the future of the project hangs in uncertainty despite claims made by the government of starting the project with new alignment.
Work on the project stopped in April after an inquiry was initiated into the R3 scam against former commissioner retired Capt Mohammad Mehmood and other officials for allegedly changing the alignment.
Many cabinet members were named and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Zulfikar Bukhari resigned over the controversy.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on April 27 took notice of the alleged changes in realignment of the much-needed Rawalpindi Ring Road project. These changes not only increased the cost of the project by Rs25 billion but also benefited some private housing societies.
Future of project remains uncertain despite govt’s claims of starting it with new alignment
However, the Punjab government announced that it would start the project and asked Lahore Ring Road Authority and Rawalpindi Development Authority to re-design the route. “Though, Punjab government allocated Rs60 million for the Project Management Unit expenditure and remaining amount of Ring Road Feasibility Study and detailed design worth Rs50 million, no money was allocated to start the project or re-design the alignment,” said a senior official of the RDA while talking toDawn.
He said no progress will be made in this project in the new fiscal year 2021-22 which means that the future of the project is uncertain. He said the anti-corruption establishment started investigations and in this regard, it recorded statements of former RDA director general Amara Khan and Abdul Sattar Essani and other senior officials of the civic body.
The project will re-start after completion of investigations however, he said, the RDA officials provided all records to the anti-corruption establishment.
To a question, he said the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) did not start investigation and no data was sought from the civic body or Project Management Unit established in the commissioner’s office.
On the other hand, Punjab government allocated funds for Leh Expressway and flood channel Project Management Unit (PMU) in the ADP whereas Rs60 million for establishment of the PMU.
PTI MNA Sheikh Rashid Shafique toldDawnthat Rs65 billion had been allocated for Leh Expressway project and it would commence in the next fiscal.
He said Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, who is focal person of the prime minister for the project, wants to start the project and he would brief the prime minister in a day or two. RDA completed the homework and design whereas other work will be started soon, he said, adding that the project will likely be completed in a year.
According to Punjab Annual Development Programme, only Rs543.4 million was allocated for five main projects in Rawalpindi - Rs50 million was allocated for the remaining feasibility and detailed design of Rawalpindi Ring Road project’s PC-II, Rs60 million for Rawalpindi Ring Road Project Management Unit, Rs300 million each for the remodeling of Kutchery Chowk and construction of the Defence Chowk flyover infront of Shifa Eye Hospital respectively, Rs69 million for three pedestrian bridges on Airport Road, Rs50 million for Dry Port from Rahimabad to Chaklala Railway Station and Rs60 million for establishment of Project Management Unit for Leh Expressway and flood channel.
Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2021