ISLAMABAD   -   The Senate Functional Committee on Problems of Less Developed Areas Friday took serious notice of the delay in major development projects, especially those pertaining to Balochistan.

It was noted that provincial road plans have not been implemented. The committee was informed that the major cause of delay was the lack of fund releases in a timely manner.

Chaired by Senator Usman Khan Kakar, the meeting commenced with a briefing by National Highways Authority (NHA) on steps taken by the organization for the construction of two bypasses at Loralai. The meeting took strong notice of the delay.

The chair said that it has been 13 years since the project began. He added that projects in other provinces had been completed at a much faster pace and questioned the reason for projects being delayed and bypassed in Balochistan.

The meeting was informed that Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded the project from Qilla Saifullah to Loralai (Lot-1) and Loralai to Waigum Rud (Lot-II) that began in August 2016. It was further informed that these projects were currently in concluding stages.

The participants were told that Loralai Bypass was not part of any package and efforts were made to make both Loralai Bypass (southern and northern) a part of Lot-I and Lot-II.

Design of Loralai Southern Bypass on right side was carried out in 2005 which had become obsolete since settlements have been made in the design alignment. Presently the PSDP 2019-20 does not contain provision/funds for these bypasses.

Tendering for the culvert has been conducted and after technical evaluation work will commence by mid-September, NHA told the participants.

While taking up the issue of dualization of road at new bypass Muslim Bagh between Railway Station and Hill Areas that are extremely less developed, the committee was informed that dualization of Zhob –Kuchlak section of N-50 is planned to be carried out in order to make this section a continuation of CPEC Western Corridor.

Detailed design has been prepared by the consultant (M/S NESPAK) and marked on the ground. As per design existing Muslim Bagh Bypass will be dualized except that take off point of the bypass (Zhob side) has been shifted away (approximately 100m) from city area along with some geometric improvements.

According to the NESPAK the length would entail 9.5 Km. The committee was further informed that as per its directives in the last meeting, the length of the Zohb-Kuchlak section was to be 14 Km however, this would only be possible after NESPACK review.

The committee was enraged at its decision being bypassed. Chairman NHA Capt (Retd) Sikander Qayyum assured the meeting that NESPAK was in no position to take a decision regarding the project, despite giving technical input.

After taking its input on technicalities, PC1 could be changed. The committee was assured that report of the technical input would be submitted to it in the next meeting.

While being briefed on land acquisition for CPEC (Western Rou) Yarak – DI Khan to Zhob, the meeting was told that Yarak to Sagu Package of CPEC-Western Route is routed through 14 Mouzaz with an approximate length of 50 kilometres.

The award of project has not been announced as yet due to the non-finalization of alignment. Hence no disbursement is made. The case has been submitted to NHA HQ in July 2019 for finalization of alignment.

The land acquisition process from Sagu to Dhansar to Zhob section of CPEC-WR has not been started yet due to non-provision of final and approved alignment by NESPAK.

The lawmakers were assured that details of evaluation of the whole project will be provided in the next meeting.

Discussing the Lowari Tunnel Project, NHA informed the lawmakers that currently processes have become more important than the project. Award will take three months, after which a timeframe for the project could be quoted.

Presenting details of Chakdara –Kalam Road, the legislators were told that 62 percent of the 82 Km road has been completed and is functional up to Fatehpur. However, the route between Bahrain and Kalam is still in progress.

The committee, once again taking strong notice of the delay, stressed that work on the project must be completed on time.

The participants were assured that work on the project will be completed by October, 2019, after which the committee could visit the site.

Discussing motorway projects that fall under CPEC, the meeting was informed that all projects have been completed within set timelines. All details were presented to the committee.