MUZAFFARABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani will visit Mirpur on Monday to perform the groundbreaking of two mega projects.

According to official sources, Mr Gilani would inaugurate the initiation of work at Miran Shah Ghazi Bridge linking Islamgarh
and Mirpur on opposite banks of Mangla Lake.

The project includes 3-kilometre long bridge over the reservoir and 2-kilometre long approach road on each side and has been part of the ‘Confidence Building Measures (CBMs)’ Islamabad had announced to win over the Mirpur residents on the eve of extension of Mangla Dam. Its cost, initially worked out at Rs1.39 billion, has however escalated to Rs4.23 billion due to inordinate delays.

The project scheduled to be completed in May 2013, would reduce the currently 28-kilometre distance between Mirpur and Islamgarh to 7 kilometres.

Mr Gilani would also address a public meeting in Islamgarh before flying to Mirpur to lay the foundation stone of Mirpur University of Science and Technology (MUST) building to be constructed with the cost of Rs2 billion.

However, PPAJK leaders were expecting more from Mr Gilani who had publicly vowed in Muzaffarabad in May last year that he would resolve all of AJK’s problems if the people voted his party to power in the region.

However, Mr Gilani is yet to announce any special package for AJK, much to the embarrassment of his party people here. Even the AJK’s outstanding development funds in the last two fiscal years have not been released by Islamabad to bail out PPAJK’s nascent government from acute financial crisis.

When contacted, AJK premier’s spokesman Murtaza Durrani told Dawn that the AJK government had forwarded its demands to Islamabad and was expecting announcement of a special development package by PM Gilani.

One major demand, Mr Durrani said, was construction of an international airport in Mirpur to facilitate hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris living in the UK and elsewhere in the world.

Another important issue to be taken up by the AJK government was of the region’s water needs.

The successive governments, it may be recalled, have been seeking allocation of a meager 613 cusecs of its own water from Mangla Lake for drinking and irrigation purposes in Mirpur and Bhimber districts.

However, the demand has not been met as yet, due to alleged opposition by two provinces, creating in turn strong resentment in AJK.