GUJRAT: At least 26 new villages have been identified for the acquisition of land for the Sambrial-Kharian motorway (an extension of Lahore-Sialkot Motorway M-11) after its alignment was changed in Gujrat and Sambrial tehsils.

The site for the construction of Jalalpur Jattan interchange is also being changed following the realignment of some 35km-long stretch of the total 69.5km-long road, while all the five interchanges will be built in Gujrat and Kharian tehsils of Gujrat district, says an official of the National Highways Authority (NHA).

He says that as per the changed plan, the motorway will pass between the Sambiral city and Sialkot international airport. Earlier, the motorway was to pass through the land between airport and Sialkot city.

The official says the road’s alignment had to be changed in the light an irrigation department study which suggested that the two bridges (for the both tracks of the motorway) to be built over the River Chenab should be construct at least 5km down stream, from the previous location mentioned in the design. Now these bridges will be built very close to the Shahbazpur Bridge, he adds.

Gujrat Additional Deputy Commissioner (revenue) Khizer Hayat Bhatti says Section IV of the Land Acquisition Act had already been notified for purchasing the land in 16 new revenue estates (villages) out of total 27 villages in Gujrat’s tehsil. However, the land in at least 11 villages identified earlier was still part of the route, he adds.

He says there was no change in the route within Kharian tehsil where construction was underway since July 2022 and now the buildings department is busy assessing the cost of concrete structures, whereas the land revenue department is in the process of fixing the prices for the acquisition of land for the newly-designed route.

Sources in the local administration say efforts are being made to negotiate with the owners of the concrete structures along the whole route as after the changed alignment of the route, the ratio of such structures had been increased whereas the forest department and other concerned authorities had been working on removing their respective assets along the route.

NHA Assistant Director Mohsin Naqvi, who in handling the land acquisition process, told Dawn that as per the changed alignment, now land would be acquired in 12 villages of Sambrial Tehsil of Sialkot district, instead of 14 villages in the previous plan. However, he says there is no change in the length of the route.

Responding to a question, he says the NHA hopes that the khairan-Sambrial motorway section will be completed within the two-year stipulated time till August 2024, and the realignment of the route may not cause any delay.

The original deign of the motorway had six lanes, but the current one has been limited to only four lanes -- reducing two lanes on its each track. The main motorway is 60km long, while a 9km-long portion of the four-lane link road (also part of the motorway) will be built to connect M-11 with the GT Road near Bismillah Chowk, Kharian.

The federal government has to bear the cost of land which is around Rs13 billion, out of the total estimated project cost of Rs42 billion, whereas the contractor firm -- the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) -- will bear the cost of construction.

The project is being executed on built, operate and transfer (BOT) mode as a public-private partnership initiative. At least 4,600 acres of land falling in some 61 villages of three tehsils of two districts is to be used for the project.

The M-11 will be expanded up to Islamabad after the completion of Kharian-Sambrial section, to become the shortest route between Lahore and Islamabad.

Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2023

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