MUZAFFARABAD: The Cabinet Development Committee (CDC) of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) has approved 33 projects in the communications and works (C&W) sector worth Rs16.32 billion.

A meeting presided over by Prime Minister Sardar Tanveer Ilyas here reviewed the projects of 620 kilometres long roads by the C&W Department under the “Kashmir Development Package,” according to an official handout.

Of these roads, 220km were approved for the southern districts of Kotli, Bhimber and Mirpur and 400km for the northern districts of Muzaffarabad, Neelum valley, Jhelum valley, Bagh, Haveli, Poonch and Sudhnoti.

In addition, the meeting approved construction/reconditioning of 30-km-long roads in constituencies LA-3 and LA-4 of district Mirpur and 18-km-long road from Chattar Klass to Danna in district Muzaffarabad.

Speaking on the occasion, the prime minister stressed the need for timely completion of the projects “without an iota of compromise on standard and quality of the arteries.”

Stability of land as well as plantation of trees on either side of roads should be ensured to prevent landslides, he directed, adding roads should be designed in the best possible manner and the tourism department should also be taken on board in this regard so that the construction of new arteries could provide an easy access to the tourist resorts.

The prime minister said weighing scales should also be installed on all main highways so that overloaded vehicles did not damage them.

These projects, he added, would be reviewed through the ‘third party’ so as to ensure their construction in accordance with the laid down specifications.

Budget cuts

Regarding the federal government’s alleged decision to slash AJK’s development budget and share from the variable grant, Mr Ilyas said the liberated territory [AJK] could not afford budget cuts in view of its peculiar needs and sensitivities.

“We are holding consultations on the option of not presenting our budget if the decision to impose cuts on our budget is not reversed by Islamabad.”

During the meeting, Finance Minister Abdul Majid Khan drew the attention of the prime minister towards a “baseless propaganda campaign” that a no-confidence motion against him (PM) was on the cards.

Responding to it, Mr Ilyas made it clear that PTI was the majority party in the Legislative Assembly with 32 seats and “there was no bar on daydreaming [by its opponents].”

“Neither the liberated territory can afford political and administrative instability nor will we allow any such thing to happen,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2022

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