ISLAMABAD - The cost of Lowari Tunnel Project has escalated to Rs 46 billion which is 475 percent higher than the original PC-I cost approved in 2004.

The original PC-I of Lowari Road Tunnel & Access Roads Project, which was approved in 2004, has been revised three times and the cost has escalated from Rs 7.98b in 2004 to Rs 46.04b in 2022, official sources told The Nation. 

During last 18 years, the cost of Lowari Tunnel project has escalated mainly due to delay in execution, shortage of funding and depreciation of Pakistan rupee. The implementation period of the project is 19 years and 2 months (230 months) started in September, 2005 and is scheduled for completion in October,2024. Lowari Road Tunnel & Access Roads Project is located between Dir and Drosh connecting districts of Dir and Chitral of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. 

The original project envisaging construction of 8.60 km long mini Electric Rail Tunnel to provide facilities of a piggyback shuttle service for transportation of loaded cargo trucks, passenger wagons, loaded cargo pickups and passenger wagons from one portal to the other was approved by ECNEC in 2004 at a cost of Rs.7.98b. The breakthrough of 8.51 km Lowari Rail Tunnel was achieved after whole cut between two portals got completed in January, 2009. Later on, it was decided to modify the already excavated rail tunnel cavity to road tunnel by enlarging the existing cross-section of the tunnel by approximately up to 3 meters to provide space for cable ducts, 2-lane road and 2.0 meter emergency lane. With this revised scope, the PC-I costing Rs.18.13b was approved by ECNEC on in November 2011. Later it was decided to further widen the carriageway from 6m to 7.5m for safe vehicular passage. Furthermore, as a result of this intervention, project cost raised to Rs.26.85b due to which a 2nd revised PC-I was prepared for processing through CDWP/ECNEC. Reasons for revision for 2nd Revised PC-I provided by NHA also included exchange rate fluctuation and increase in market rates of various cost items. The 2nd revised PC-I of the project was approved by the ECNEC in August 2016 at the total cost of Rs. 26.85b. As per the 3rd revised PC-I of the project the sponsor sought another hike to Rs 46.04b from Rs.26.85b.