ISLAMABAD - The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) on Monday approved seven projects worth Rs201.05 billion including Burhan-Havelian expressway and Lahore-Sialkot motorway.

The ECNEC meeting, which was chaired by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, also considered and approved Balochistan Integrated Water Resource Management and Development Project (BIWRMDP) at the updated cost of Rs.22, 165 million. The project is highly important as it is located on Nari and Porali River Basins. The project will cover almost one fourth of the Balochistan area and will provide multiple benefits to the people of Balochistan including providing clean drinking water facility, reducing the risk of floods, less erosion, more fuel wood, more fodder for livestock and saving endangered forests for mangroves and juniper and enhanced agriculture productivity. The project was found essential for water sector of Balochistan as it aims at vital requirement like hydro-meteorological installations, flood protection works and institutional capacity building. The project cost also includes $200 million as foreign aid from IDA. The project will take 6 years to complete.

ECNEC also considered and approved the Lowari Road Tunnel and Access Road Project at the revised cost of Rs26, 855 million. The project is expected to complete by October 2017. The revision of cost is the result of the increase in the scope of work of the project which includes the increase in the width of the tunnel from 6 meters to 7.5 meters with clear height of 5 meters. The scope of work also includes provision of ventilation and electrical works for road tunnel, construction of platforms, operational buildings along with allied facilities, installations and equipment for snow clearing. The cost of the project also includes FEC of Rs.5870 million. NHA will be the executing authority for the project.

Equally important and related to Lowari Tunnel project, “Improvement and widening of N-45 (130.22 KM) Project” also got approval from ECNEC at the revised cost of Rs17,423 million. The project is located at Chakdara, Timergara, Akhagram, Dir Kalkatak, Chitral. Both Lowari Tunnel project and N-45 project will prove to be a strategic asset for Pakistan. These will go a long way in development of the area and providing better facilities to the public.

Another project in KP which was approved is construction of Burhan -Havelian Expressway (E-35) 59.1km (revised) at the revised PC cost of Rs34,165.million. The project is expected to be completed by September 2017. The cost of the project is revised due to addition of 3rd lane on either side of the already ongoing project for construction of 59.1 km limited access controlled four lane divided facility/motorway with service roads on either side along a new alignment with allied structures/facilities. The revised project is being funded through ADB loan of $200 million. ADB also agreed to provide remaining loan amount for additional scope of work.

KP Finance Minister Muzafar Said on the occasion thanked the government of PM Nawaz Sharif for expediting work on the projects as they are of vital importance to the province.

ECNEC also considered and approved “Installation of ship lift and transfer system and associated machinery and equipment to provide docking and repair facilities to surface ships, submarines and commercial vessels” at Karachi Shipyard at the revised and rationalized cost of Rs.9563 million including FEC of Rs.3,644 million. The facility will cater to commercial vessels up to 7781 tons of dead weight net lifting capacity along with establishment of 13 fully equipped repair stations. The project will be completed by September 2017 as it is already in progress.

ECNEC also approved construction of Lahore–Sialkot Motorway (89km) at the total cost of 45,382 million rupees. The project will complete in 27 months (September 2016 to December 2018). The project envisages construction of 89km, 4-lanes access controlled motorway with 0.6 m New Jersey Barrier as median with allied facilities. The project will be operated on BOT basis.

ECNEC also approved “Procurement of 75 Diesel Electric Locomotives (DEL)” at the total cost of 45,496 million with FEC of 31,729.490 million rupees. These will be completely built units (CBU) used for operation in freight/ passenger operations.