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Funds delay puts NHA projects in limbo

ISLAMABAD – Going against its own tall claims pertaining to smooth release of PSDP funds, the incumbent government has released meagre chunk of money in first quarterly payment to National Highway Authority (NHA), delaying many important projects.

NHA could get meagre chunk in its first payment for its different delayed and new projects, which is insufficient in all views, it was learnt reliably.

Keeping in view the escalation cost which is increasing manifold with the passage of time and ultimately affecting national exchequer, the Communication Ministry had requested time and again for smooth release of funds for Ministry’s different projects. It seems as if the authorities concerned have nothing to do with decade old delayed projects as no change was witnessed in policies, Ministry officials said.

It would not be out of place to mention here that due to delay in projects the cost had increased manifold. The work on Islamabad-Murree Expressway, which links Islamabad with Muzaffarabad and Chakoti border area of AJK, started during the last tenure of Nawaz Sharif with an initial estimated cost of Rs3 billion. NHA had faced liability in billions, which also played contributory role in delaying main projects including Gwadar, Islamabad-Murree Expressway (IME) and others.

About Gwadar connectivity, NHA officials were optimistic that it would be possible till 2012 but with the pace of projects it was difficult to complete it in time.

Although, to bring in an equitable distribution of funds amongst the provinces, National Highway Council (NHC) has decided to allocate 33.01 per cent of the current allocation of PSDP (2011-12) to Punjab, 21.62 percent to Sindh, 24.13 per cent to Baluchistan, 18.81 per cent to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and 2.43 percent to Gilgit Baltistan and AJK. It may be mentioned here that the cost of its extra-ordinary delayed communication project has almost doubled and the recent budgetary allocation, if given in such a way, could only help to complete some projects in decade long time.

It had been claimed to complete more than two-decade-old project of Lowari Tunnel till next year but on ground only almost one billion is allocated for it. This meagre amount for big project, if earmarked in such a way, will help complete it in more than 10 years, said experts. The cost of another project of same nature but comparatively smaller i.e. Lyari express has increased by over 100pc (initially it was over Rs 4 billion) due to extraordinary delay in execution of the project.
The incumbent government has also claimed to complete Lowari Tunnel project till next year (2012), yet over 50 per cent work is to be done despite lapse of many years.

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