PESHAWAR, April 23: Former Jamaat-i-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed has expressed grave concern over the closure of work on the Lowari Tunnel and asked the government to immediately release the required funds of Rs4.5 billion for completion of the remaining work on the mega project.
This he said while talking to media persons at a protest camp set up by people of Chitral district along Sher Shah Suri Road near press club on Monday. The protesters were led by former MNA and JI leader Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali. Several former nazims, including Israrullah Advocate, Sartaj Ahmed Khan, Naqeebullah, leaders from Chitral and Booni participated in the camp. Criticizing the government’s apathy towards this project of national interest, Qazi Hussain Ahmed said Chitral was strategically very important district where several people were killed in different attacks from across the border but even then the rulers were not paying attention on improvement of its communication.
He said that it was not only a long awaited demand of the people and a core issue of the country but a dire need for the country mainly due to its access towards the central Asian countries. The Chitral district, he said itself was so important from the tourism point of view that government could earn a lot of revenue through its attractive climatic conditions, fertile land, water, forest, minerals and other natural resources. In the prevailing situation, he said the people were being faced with great problems due to inaccessibility and it was prime duty of the rulers to pay the project. “Work on the project had been initiated in 2005 and two third of it had been completed but it was left halfway due to lack of funds,” he pointed out.
He said that the incumbent government had allocated Rs20 millions but Rs10 million were paid in the pending salaries and other areas and the remaining Rs10 million was insufficient to complete the work. Due to delay of the work, the JI leader said that market rate of the construction materials had also gone up and it was duty of the government to give full attention on its completion within the shortest possible time. Earlier, Maulana Chitrali also criticized the government for its failure to complete the project within the stipulated time and described it as its failure. He said that a provincial Minister Saleem Khan had also claimed to get the required funds from the federal government but he could not do so.
He said that the elected representatives of Chitral should admit failure and step down as they were unable to facilitate their voters. The protesters were holding banners and placards inscribed with demands for early completion of the project. They also shouted anti-government slogans for solution to the matters. They also demanded restoration of the water courses, irrigational channels destroyed as result of the floods. They asked for construction of new water channels in order to irrigate the barren agriculture lands.–Dawn