ADB decides against financing Karachi’s Malir Expressway

Published April 29, 2023
In this file picture, work is under way to level the river bed for construction of Malir Expressway.
—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
In this file picture, work is under way to level the river bed for construction of Malir Expressway. —Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: The Asian Development Bank has said that the Malir Expressway project has been taken off the priority lists for funding through ADB resources.

In a letter to Indigenous Legal Rights Alliance (ILRA), a group of people affected by the project, the ADB said that the project was not eligible for consideration under the ADB Accountability Mechanism.

“Over the objection of the indigenous people of Malir, ADB rejected the Malir Expressway on environmental grounds,” stated Hafeez Baloch while sharing a copy of the ADB letter on Twitter.

However, Sindh government spokesperson and Chief Minister’s Law Adviser Barrister Murtaza Wahab told Dawn that the Malir Expressway was a public-private partnership (PPP) project and was not financed by the ADB.

Project taken off funding list on complaint of two Malir residents; Murtaza Wahab says public-private partnership project is not ADB-supported

The ILRA had lodged a complaint with the ADP about the adverse environmental impact of the expressway on behalf of the affected people.

In the letter, the ADB stated that the team of Office of the Special Project Facilitator (OSPF) had been closely monitoring the issues raised in the complaint through the ADB project team.

It said that the Malir Expressway was one of the projects under the ADB-financed PPP programme in the province. However, there has been no commitment to date for ADB’s funding of the project, it added.

The projects, it said, are being selected on the basis of priorities of the government keeping in mind opportunities to create a larger potential to trigger public-private-partnership development in the region.

The letter stated that a meeting to discuss the portfolio of ADB’s engagement in Sindh was held in early March 2023 and there were extensive discussions and a focus on climate change risks “The Government of Sindh as an ADB partner understands the importance ADB attaches to addressing climate change risk,” it said and added that with these developments, the “Malir Expressway project has been taken off the priority lists for funding through ADB resources”.

Mohammad Aslam and Azeem Dehkan, the two residents and farmers of Malir, had lodged a complaint before the ADB through their counsel Abira Ashfaq, against the project through IRLA.

They alleged that the provincial government had conducted an improper Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the Malir Expressway would cause immense environmental, ecological and economic damage.

They said that the project would reduce agricultural productivity and also cause damage to an essential green belt on the outskirts of Karachi along the Malir river that protected the city from the adverse effects of climate change especially heatwaves and floods.

The provincial government stated that Rs27 billion project would provide a new southern route and facilitate thousands of commuters and heavy commercial traffic of the port, Korangi Industrial Area, Landhi Industrial Area and provide connectivity to DHA City and Bahria Town on Superhighway.

Published in Dawn, April 29th, 2023

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