ISLAMABAD: Former MNA Shahzada Iftikharuddin has called upon the PTI government to revisit the decision of dropping key infrastructure projects of Chitral from the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).
“On my behalf I met KP senior minister and minister of tourism Atif Khan in the second week of September and requested him to have all the NHA road projects – Chitral-Garam Chashma Dorah Pass Road costing Rs8.4 billion, Chitral-Kalash Valleys Road, Chitral-Shandur Road, Terich Lot Owir, Chitral-Chakdara road and Torkhow Road – implemented if we really want promotion of tourism in the area.
“To my request, Atif Khan promised to speak to PM Imran Khan to ensure that Garam Chashma and Kalash Valley roads are executed as planned,” Shahzada Iftikhar said in a statement.
At a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Commission (ECNEC) on March 7, 2018, it was ensured that Chitral-Shandur Road was not left alone to CPEC funding and at the time of approval it was agreed that for this road funds would be allocated via PSDP. Therefore, an amount of Rs1.5 billion was allocated in PSDP 2018 for the current financial year.
“In the 2018-19 budget, I had ensured that Rs1.5 billion were allocated for Chitral-Shandur Road against its total cost of Rs16.75 billion, another Rs1.5 billion were allocated for Chitral-Garam Chashma Road with the total project cost of Rs8.4 billion, Rs500 million were set aside for the Kalash valley Roads with the total cost of Rs4.6 billion and Rs300 million were reserved for the Torkhow Road. Now 12 out of 13 excavators and bulldozers have been moved out of the Torkhow Road project site by the contractor.
The federal government recently dropped the Chitral-Shandur road from the current fiscal year’s PSDP while funding for another mega project, Chakdara-Chitral Road, has also been shelved.
“It is very painful to learn of the new government’s priorities. Chakdara Chitral Road also part of the PSDP costing Rs17.42 billion had been guaranteed funding from South Korean’s EXIM Bank whose status needs to be determined. Likewise Rs75 crores were included in PSDP for Terich Lot Owir Road in addition to three bridges each costing Rs16 crores between Oseak-Drosh, Kuragh-Kosht, Nishkuh-Werkhop, Shogore-Awi as all bridge projects were approved at CDWP on 13 March, 2018.”
That means that Terich Lot Owir road alone had total allocations of Rs1.02 billion (Rs75 crores + Rs16 crores for Nishkuh Bridge + Rs16 crores for Kuragh Kosht Bridge). One would reckon if the Rs16.75 billion Shandur Road gets dropped the same could also be expected of the 212 km Shandur-Gilgit Road for which Rs25 billion were allocated in the PSDP 2018-19 thereby taking out Chitral from CPEC’s alternate route and casting a dark shadow on our future economic outlook as Chitral becomes isolated at a time when the rest of the GB and Hazara and 14 districts of KP besides Bajaur and Mohmand agencies would reap the benefits of the CPEC route.
Removing Chitral’s mega projects from PSDP 2018 is unfortunate as it had taken 14 months just to survey the Chitral-Shandur Road and an additional year to approve it at ECNEC while it took six months each just to survey the Garam Chashma and Kalash valley roads.
An amount of Rs59 billion were spent on different projects in Chitral during the PML-N government’s tenure from 2013 to May 2018.