RAWALPINDI: Though about two-third of the land required for Rawalpindi Ring Road is yet to be acquired, the construction work on the Rs30 billion project was on Friday morning startedby the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO).

Interestingly, Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) has no funds for the construction work and has requested the caretaker Punjab government to release Rs4 billion. However, Commissioner Rawalpindi Division Liaquat Ali Chatha said he was confident that the amount will be released in a day or two.

The total length of the road is 38.3 kilometres, but the district administration has so far acquired land from Chak Beli Khan to Adiala, which is 12km. Land for the 26.3km portion of the road is yet to be acquired.

The commissioner visited Gorakpur near Adiala and reviewed the work speed plan. Additional Deputy Commissioner Revenue Nabil Sindhu, Assistant Commissioner Cantonment Qandeel Fatima, RDA Director General Saif Anwar Jappa and Nespak representatives were present on the occasion.

RDA requests Punjab govt to release Rs4bn, two-third of land yet to be acquired; commissioner says CM wants road ready in six months

Talking to Dawn, Mr Chatha, who is also the project director, said the construction work had been started and FWO mobilised its heavy machinery.

“Though the completion time was set as one year, caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi has directed to complete the project within six months,” he said.

About the land acquisition, he said the district administration had already acquired land from Chak Beli Khan to Adiala Road which was 12km, and the remaining land will be acquired next week.

“We have Rs6.7 billion which the Punjab government had released last year and this amount would be used to acquire the remaining land,” he said.

However, he said the caretaker government had been requested for funds for the construction work, which will be released in a day or two.

“We imposed section 17(4) of the Land Acquisition Act in the areas from Baanth to Thalian near the motorway and the acquisition of land will be started from Monday. We will purchase land from the locals at the market rate and 15 per cent extra amount will be given to the owners,” he said.

He said the Land Acquisition Act’s section was imposed when the government wanted to get land for a public interest project and the landowners were compensated at the market rates. “We will compensate all the landowners at handsome rates,” he said.

To a question about election commission’s restriction on new projects, the commissioner made it clear that the project was started last year but work on it could not be started.

“So, it is not a new project but an ongoing one and there is no restriction on such schemes before general elections.”

The commissioner the Ring Road was a very important public welfare project. “Elements who were saying that the project had been canceled will be disappointed today. The RDA has a key role in the implementation of development projects,” he said.

He said the mega project will reduce traffic gridlocks and facilitate movement of the residents of adjacent areas.

The 38.3km Ring Road will have five interchanges at Baanth, Chak Beli Khan, Adiala Road, Chakri Road and Thalian. An industrial zone will also be established around the road.

The total cost of the project is Rs31.7 billion - Rs23 billion for construction and Rs6.7 billion for land acquisition.

During the PTI government, two routes were planned for the project and later work was started on the main carriageway from Baanth on Grand Trunk Road to Thallian on the motorway.

Former prime minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone of the road at Thallian in March 2022. The FWO was awarded the contract.

The PDM government temporarily halted the project and gave the go-ahead after carrying out a third-party validation of the route.

Former prime minister Shahbaz Sharif had directed the authorities to seek a third-party consultant for validating the optimal route.

A joint venture of Turkish and Pakistani firms was tasked with selecting the route from Baanth to Thallian.After getting its report, Mr Sharif also laid the foundation of the road at Rawat on August 8 this year.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2023

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