Senate Standing Committee on Communications was informed on Monday that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif desires quick development of Balochistan and has called for early completion of highway projects in the province.
The committee which met under the chairmanship of Senator Daud Achakzai was given detailed briefing about the Western Route of the China-Paksitan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by National Highway Authority (NHA) Chairman Shahid Ashraf Tarar.
The NHA chairman said that the government is very sincere in completing the Western alignment of the CPEC and the prime minister who himself has kept the portfolio of the Communications Ministry is interested in early construction of D I Khan-Gwadar section of the project.
He apprised the committee that feasibility of Hakla-Burhan section of the western alignment was completed on priority basis and its work started in a record one year time. He said it was given priority as the All Parties Conference had issued directive for its construction and it was also necessary to complete the missing link between Hazara Motorway and D I Khan-Gwadar section.
He said feasibility study of the D I Khan-Zhob section of the CPEC will be completed by end of this month and the NHA is ready to immediately start work on its PC-I.
He strongly dispelled the impression given by certain elements that the Western Route is not being given top priority.
The chairman said that the project was included in the short term projects of the CPEC which will be completed before 2020.
He explained that early harvest projects will be completed within three years, short term in three to five years, medium term in five to ten years and long term in 10 to 15 years.
He clarified that technical feasibility of the project is taking time as it is a very difficult terrain and after completion of feasibility, the project will be taken up on fast track basis.
Committee Chairman Daud Achakzai said that if the work on the western alignment is not done at fast pace, doubts will rise in the minds of people.
The committee members also said that fast pace of the work on the project will stop critics of the CPEC.
The committee issued directive to the NHA to take steps for early possession of the land required for construction of D I Khan Surab section of the CPEC. The members said that over 90 per cent of the land needed for the project was public sector land but so far the NHA has not taken its possession.
The NHA chairman assured the committee that a meeting will be held with the Balochistan chief secretary for transfer of land to NHA shortly. However the committee decided to call him in its next meeting to get a briefing from him on the issues and seek his help in early transfer of land to NHA.
Earlier the officials of Frontier Works Organisation assured the committee that they would clear the dues of petty contractors on Kaghan-Chilas Highway. The committee was informed that this road provided an alternate route for the Karakorum Highway and saved a hundred kilometer of distance. The issue was raised by Senator Salahuddin Tirmizi in the Senate, which referred the matter to the committee.
The meeting was attended by Senators Usman Khan Kakar, Sajjad Turi, Yousuf Badini, Muhammad Ali Saif, Hassan Mandokhail and Salahuddin Tirmizi.
Besides Communications Secretary Khalid Masood Chaudhry, senior officials from ministries of Defence, Finance and Planning Division also attended the meeting.