PM directs Punjab govt to start work on Leh Expressway project by Dec

Published October 4, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs a meeting in this file photo. — APP
Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs a meeting in this file photo. — APP

RAWALPINDI: Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked the provincial government to start work on Leh Expressway and Flood Channel project worth Rs55 billion by the end of December under public-private partnership basis.

Talking to Dawn, PTI MNA Sheikh Rashid Shafique said the provincial government gave a briefing to the prime minister a few days ago.

He said Commissioner Syed Gulzar Hussain Shah has been appointed as the project director and he would soon establish a Project Management Unit to overlook the homework for the multi-billion project.

A survey for land acquisition has been completed and the commissioner would soon start work to acquire the land, he said, adding there was a dire need to launch the project to provide an alternative route for travellers between the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad besides a permanent solution to flooding in the area during the monsoon.

Commissioner appointed as project director; Project Management Unit to be established

On the other hand, a senior official told Dawn that the Punjab government wanted to start the Urban Regeneration Project to improve infrastructure along the proposed Leh Expressway and to include the project in the Annual Development Programme (ADP).

He added that government officials made a suggestion to form a committee for the Urban Regeneration Project along Leh Nullah as it would generate millions of rupees for the provincial government.

It may be mentioned that the Punjab Development Working Party (PDWP) gave approval to establish a Project Management Unit (PMU) on July 4 and issued directions to start feasibility study for urban regeneration along the nullah.

Leh Nullah Expressway’s total length will be 16.5 kilometres. As many as 1,604 houses fall in the right of way of the proposed expressway and 1,279 kanals is to be acquired - 1,035.9 kanals private land, 132.4 kanals owned by Military Engineering and Works, 54.72 kanals of Chaklala Cantonment Board and 56 kanals of Rawalpindi Cantonment Board.

The survey for land acquisition was completed early in 2021 during the tenure of former commissioner Mohammad Mehmood who is currently in custody of Anti-Corruption Establishment in the Rawalpindi Ring Road scandal case.

After coming to power, the PTI government announced to start two mega projects for Rawalpindi - Rawalpindi Ring Road and Leh Expressway and Flood Channel. However, work on Ring Road project was stopped after Prime Minister Imran Khan took notice of alleged corruption in the project.

When contacted, Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) Chairman Tariq Mehmood said that after the prime minister’s directive in a meeting a few days ago to speed up work on the project, the RDA had completed homework.

He said that the divisional commissioner will be the project director and he will establish the Project Management Unit as soon as possible. He said RDA will provide assistance to the commissioner in this regard.

“For urban regeneration feasibility study, RDA started the process to hire a consultant as per the government rules. As many as three firms were shortlisted for the study. The consultant will be hired and the selected firm will conduct the study within four months. The work is likely to start by early January,” he said.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2021

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