RAWALPINDI: After completing the Rawalpindi Ring Road (R3) inquiry report, the federal government asked the provincial authority to revive the old alignment cancelled in April 2021.

As per 2020 alignment, 66.3km-long road project worth Rs64 billion will start from Rawat Radio Pakistan to Thalian and from Thalian to Sangjani.

After quashing alleged corruption charges in Rawalpindi Ring Road scam against former commissioner retired Capt Mohammad Mehmood, the Establishment Division on Monday directed the Punjab government and Planning Commission to take immediate steps to revive the project on optimal alignment, in consultation with relevant stakeholders.

In its press release, the Establishment Division stated that upon finalisation of the inquiry report Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif directed the Punjab government and Planning Commission to conduct a third-party validation for determination of optimal route for Rawalpindi Ring Road Economic Corridor Project by an independent consulting firm of highest repute.

Inquiry report exonerates former commissioner

“Former commissioner retired Capt Mohammad Mahmood has been exonerated from the charges levelled against him under the Civil Servants (Efficiency and Discipline) Rules, 2020,” it stated.

Moreover, it stated that the inquiry report submitted by the inquiry officer Omer Rasul, Director General, Civil Services Academy, Lahore is available on the website of the Establishment Division www.establishment.gov.pk for public view.

The scandal came to light when Prime Minister Imran Khan took notice of allegations in April 2021 that the Punjab bureaucracy and some PTI politicians had planned an additional road which would have benefited some private housing societies and increased the actual cost of the project by Rs25 billion.

As the Rawalpindi Ring Road project controversy deepened, former special assistant to the prime minister Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari resigned and the then aviation minister, Ghulam Sarwar, said if corruption charges against him proved he would quit politics.

After transferring former commissioner retired Capt Mohammad Mehmood, Chief Secretary Jawwad Rafique Malik formed a fact-finding committee in May 2021. In July 2021, the former commissioner was arrested by the anti-corruption establishment and sent him to jail. He was also suspended from the service.

However, things changed and after coming to power, PML-N-led federal government started inquiry into the matter and formed inquiry committee led by Director General, Civil Services Academy, Lahore Omer Rasul.

After investigating the matter and interviewing all the government officials in Rawalpindi and Attock, the committee gave clean chit to retired Capt Mohammad Mehmood and in light of the report, the government decided to revive the old alignment from Rawat to Thalian and from Motorway to Sangjani to connect it with Islamabad but it would be validated by consultants of international repute.

Former PTI government canceled the alignment and formed new alignment from Rawat to Motorway measuring 38km. In March 19, Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated the project and gave the contract to Frontier Works Organisation (FWO).

The total cost of the project is Rs33.7 billion including Rs27 billion construction cost and Rs6.7 billion for land acquisition while the total length of main carriageway is 38.3km.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2022

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