RAWALPINDI: Punjab Planning and Development Board has returned PC-I of Rawalpindi Ring Road project to Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) with the direction to first decide the construction mode of the road.
After corruption allegations, the provincial government restored the alignment of the road and decided to construct it under Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) instead of Public Private Partnership (PPP) which was originally planned. Planning and Development Board returned the PC-I with the objection to first decide the mode of construction as under PSDP the funding will be borne by the provincial government.
Sources told Dawn that under PPP mode the government and private sector will bear the project cost jointly.
The senior official of the administration said that in the past, the project was approved by PPP Authority headed by the Punjab chief minister to start the project under Public Private Partnership.
He said that the project was to be handed over to Lahore Ring Road Authority for execution but later the provincial government decided against it as there was a need to amend the act to increase the scope of the ring road authority.
Returns it to RDA with direction to first decide mode of construction
However, the project was stopped after Prime Minister Imran Khan took notice of the alleged changes in alignment of Rawalpindi Ring Road project.
These changes not only increased the cost of the project by Rs25 billion but also benefited some private housing societies.
Meanwhile, Anti-Corruption Establishment has started investigation into corruption allegations and arrested former commissioner retired Capt Mohammad Mehmood.
Some cabinet members including Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Zulfikar Bukhari were also named in the project beneficiaries. Zulfikar Bukhari resigned over the controversy.
In June, the new proposal of the project restored alignment of the road starting from Rawat to Thalian, measuring 38 kilometer.
As per old alignment, 66.3 kilometer long Ring Road was to start from Rewat Radio Pakistan to Thalian and from Thalian to Sangjani. The Punjab government had to acquire 2,275 acres of land while 1385.7 acres worth Rs5 billion had been acquired.
However, the official said that the government had not not decided about the future of the money amounting to Rs2.5 billion spent on land acquisition.
He said the government had not given a clear policy about the 246.7 kanals donated to Punjab government by nine housing societies free of cost as they had been asked to give way to the Ring Road.
An official of local administration requesting not to be named told Dawn that the government wanted to start the project on new alignment.
“The last PML-N government worked on the alignment of Ring Road from Chani Sher Alam near Rawat to Thalian and Chinese Bank Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was ready to give $400 million loan to Punjab government for the construction of the road,” he said.
However, he said that after extension of the Ring Road alignment from Thalian to Sangjani, the PTI government wanted to construct the road on PPP basis and decided to establish economic zones along the Ring Road for revenue generation.
Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2021