RAWALPINDI: Rawalpindi Development authority (RDA) formally approved two mega projects including Leh Nullah Expressway and Rawalpindi Ring Road after getting approval from Punjab Planning and Development Board but it dropped the plan of establishing special economic zones along Ring Road.

The authority’s governing body meeting was held on Thursday in the commissioner’s office with RDA governing body Chairman Tariq Mehmood Murtaza presiding it. Commissioner Syed Gulzar Hussain Shah who holds additional charge of director general of RDA was also present.

The meeting was the 56th meeting of RDA’s governing body. Mr Mehmood said two mega projects including Rawalpindi Ring Road and Leh Expressway and Flood Channel are the government’s gift to the citizens of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

A senior official of the Punjab Planning and Development Board told Dawn that the Ring Road project, worth more than Rs10 billion, was referred to Central Development Working Party (CDWP) for final approval as there was need to get permission of the federal government.

He said the government ended the previous plan to establish economic zones along the road to save land acquisition cost. Technically speaking, it is not Ring Road now and just a bypass to bring heavy traffic from G.T Road to motorway.

He said establishment of Special Economic Zones along R3 has been cancelled as the project is not constructed on P3 Mode and is being undertaken as an Annual Development Programme Scheme.

Mr Shah gave a detailed briefing about both projects to participants of the meeting. He said both projects have been cleared by the Provincial Development Working Party (PDWP), adding, the prime minister of Pakistan will perform the ground breaking on Dec 25.

He said work on the Leh Nullah project will begin soon as they are a “grand national service”, adding, the alignment described as R3 was 38.3 kilometres.It will be most feasible, economical and viable to connect G.T. Road from Banth to Thallian Interchange Motorway. Land acquisition and construction on this alignment also has been approved.

The RDA chairman said Rawalpindi Ring Road would not only reduce traffic congestion in the twin cities but also provide a clean, healthy and safe environment.

Both the chairman and commissioner, on behalf of the governing body, appreciated guidance of the chief secretary Punjab, additional chief secretary and tireless efforts of the district administration and RDA officials.

It may be mentioned here that Leh Nullah Expressway and Flood Channel project’s PC-I worth Rs25 billion for land acquisition was approved by the PDWP and it will be constructed on public private partnership (P3).

Rawalpindi Ring Road (R3) project’s PC-I for land acquisition worth Rs6 billion has been approved and its construction PC-I worth Rs25 billion was approved by Provincial Development Working Party (PDWP) and sent for final approval to Central Development Working Party (CDWP) for final approval.

Earlier, the provincial government had planned to establish SEZs along Rawalpindi Ring Road and shift grain, vegetable and fruit markets, and goods transport services besides warehouses there.

Published in Dawn, October 29th, 2021

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