ISLAMABAD: Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Tuesday announced that two major projects — Rs900bn worth of power plant component at Diamer-Basha Dam and Rs250bn of Chashma Right Bank Canal (Lift-cum-Gravity) project — had been included in the next year’s budget for formal launching very shortly.

Speaking at a news conference, the minister said China and Pakistan had also agreed to go for revision in cost estimates and terms of financing for multi-billion-dollar Railway’s Karachi to Peshawar Track (Mainline-1) to modernise the obsolete track that was prone to accidents.

He said a meeting of the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) had recommended two mega water sector projects worth Rs1.150 trillion for approval by the Executive Committee of the National Assembly (Ecnec).

The minister said the PML-N government had started work on Diamir Bhasha Dam project with an estimated cost of Rs428bn and completed its land acquisition in 2017-18 at a cost of Rs120bn and formally launched the project but regretted the previous PTI government delayed it for three years. This led to cost escalation to Rs705bn because of devaluation and inflation factors but the previous government instead of revising its cost, showed its financing at Rs480bn without giving a financial plan for the remaining Rs225bn.

Ahsan says cost revision of Karachi-Peshawar ML-1 line agreed

We are arranging financing for the dam project and at the same time preparing to launch the power station component of the project.

He said another long outstanding project necessary to augment Khyber Pakhtukhwa’s irrigation water-carrying infrastructure project was also cleared by the CDWP at a cost of Rs250bn and referred to the Ecnec for approval. The project that was lingering on for 30 years would help irrigate 275,000 acres in the southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The construction of the Chashma Right Bank Canal Lift-cum-Gravity was part of the 1991 Water Accord but remained unimplemented and KP could not utilise its allocated water share. The federal government would finance 65pc cost of the project while the rest would be provided by the provincial government, he said. The federal government would try to complete the project as early as possible to bring revolution in the agriculture sector of the province, he said.

The planning minister further informed that on the directives of the prime minister, the Chaman-Quetta-Karachi (N-25) dualising road project had also been approved. The present government was giving special priority to the Balochistan road projects to improve the socio-economic condition of the residents.

Mr Iqbal said there was a shortage of electricity near the Makran Coastal areas where Pakistan was getting 100MW from Iran. This was insufficient to meet the requirement therefore he had met the Iranian ambassador in Pakistan who assured him that the agreement for additional 100MW electricity from Iran would be finalised soon.

Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2022

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