Residents of Lillah, Pind Dadan Khan dissatisfied with Rs1.5b allocated for Lillah-Jhelum dual carriageway

Gujar khan   -   The residents of Jhelum, Pind Dadan Khan, and Lillah areas have voiced their dissatisfaction with the federal government’s decision to allocate only Rs.1.5 billion for the construction of the 128-km-long Lillah-Jhelum dual carriageway in the fiscal budget for 2024–25. The project received approval from the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) under the PTI government in June 2021. It was allocated a budget of Rs. 16 billion and had a projected completion date of March 2023. Following the removal of the PTI governments in both the center and Punjab, the project experienced a significant slowdown, further exacerbating the difficulties faced by the people.

Mr. Bilal Azhar Kiani, a PML-N member of the National Assembly (MNA) from Jhelum and convener of the District Coordination Committee (DCC), in a video message expressed, his joy and congratulated the people of the area on Wednesday. He announced that the federal government had allocated a significant amount of Rs. 1.5 billion in the annual budget, which he attributed to their “collective efforts.” According to his statement, the residents have long been requesting funds for the project, and once the funds are released, the construction work will be accelerated. According to Mr. Kiani, despite the challenging economic conditions, the government has made room for funds in order to address the difficulties faced by the people.

However, Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, the former Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, expressed his concerns about the funding being inadequate for the project’s completion. In a recorded video statement, Mr. Fawad asserted that the funding allocated by the federal government was intended to cover the escalation charges that had already been paid to the contractor. According to former minister, Rs. 16 billion of funds were allocated for the project during his government in 2021, with the expectation that it would be finished by 2023. However, the cost of the project has now increased to around Rs. 27 billion.

 According to him, the project has the ability to transform the future of Jhelum, Pind Dadan Khan, Lillah, and Chakwal areas, while also providing a connection between G.T. Road and the M-2 motorway at the Lillah interchange. He urged the “saner” local representatives of the PML-N to emphasize the seriousness of the issue to party President Nawaz Sharif and request funding for the project in the Punjab govern ment’s budget. Fawad claimed that the project was stopped by the PML-N government due to personal animosity towards former Prime Minister Imran Khan and himself. Mr. Chaudhry expressed disappointment over the suspension of important projects in Pind Dadan Khan, such as a trauma center and water supply initiatives, that were approved during his time in government. He emphasized that if the legitimate concerns of the people were not addressed, protests would become the only course of action, which were already being recorded.

 Additionally, he pointed out the alarming number of lives lost in fatal accidents and the difficulties faced by seriously ill patients in reaching hospitals promptly.

The former minister suggested that the government should allocate a minimum of Rs. 10 billion to ensure substantial progress of the project.

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