SIALKOT, April 11: President Pervaiz Musharraf laid the foundation stone of the Sialkot-Lahore Motorway project at a ceremony held at Garrison Park in Sialkot Cantonment on Wednesday.

A sum of Rs23 billion will be spent on some 100 kilometre long road that will reduce the two-and-a-half hours long distance between Sialkot and Lahore to only one hour.

Speaking on the occasion, the president said the completion of the mega project would open a new vista of socio-economic development in the region.

The president claimed that the motorway project would be completed in a stipulated period of three months and it would provide job opportunities to over 60,000 unemployed people.

He said the motorway would be of six lanes, besides seven interchanges, eight flyovers, 40 bridges and 70 underpasses. Three industrial zones and two universities would also be established along the project.

Gen Musharraf said the agricultural sector would also get a boost by right of better connectivity of road networks with the motorway.

The president also announced the immediate construction of Sialkot Medical College that had almost been shelved. He also directed to reconstruct Sialkot-Daska-Gujranwala Road and its conversion into a dual carriageway.

He also ordered the preparation of a feasibility report regarding the construction of protective bunds over Nullah Aik and Dek.

At least Rs100 million grant had also been announced for the uplift of Sialkot from the president fund.

Earlier addressing a public meeting, Punjab Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi said that Rs11 billion had so far been provided for the development projects in the Sialkot district during the last four years.

National Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Ameer Hussain, Governor Khalid Maqbool, Sialkot District Nazim Muhammad Akmal Cheema, Federal Investment Minister Zahid Hamid, Federal Parliamentary Secretary Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Punjab Industries Minister Muhammad Ajmal Cheema, Punjab Agricultural Marketing Minister Syed Akhtar Hussain Rizvi and Punjab Power Minister Armughan Subhani were also present.

Gen Musharraf also inaugurated the Sughra Shafi Memorial Hospital and Sahara for Life Trust at Narowal.

Prominent singer Ibrarul Haq briefed the president about the achievements of the two institutions. Narowal District Nazim Niamat Ali Javaid was also present.

Speaking to local notables, the president pledged to provide the gas facility to the people of Narowal district shortly.

Meanwhile, lawyers observed a black day on the eve of President Pervaiz Musharraf’s visit to Sialkot.

They boycotted the courts and wore black armbands in protest.

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