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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government to take over the entire project of new Balakot City from Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) and accomplish it as a tourist resort.

The premier was chairing a meeting on the development of New Balakot City to make it a new tourist resort in the hilly areas for the promotion of tourism in the country.

The premier stated that the government intended to develop new tourist resorts in the hilly areas for the promotion of tourism in the country.

"For this purpose, reputed private investors in the field of tourism and hospitality are being attracted on Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode," the premier added.

He directed the federal and provincial concerned authorities for taking all the required measures to fully facilitate private investors in this regard.

The prime minister further directed to exclude irrigated land from the project in order to ensure food security in the region. Earlier, the prime minister was briefed that feasibility study on a Rs19.5 billion project for the development of New Balakot City as a tourist hub on design-build-finance-operate and transfer (DBFOT) mode had been completed by the NESPAK and KPMG.

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He was further informed that 63 percent of residential plots out of the total 6,753 under the proposed project are reserved for allotment to the local affectees, whereas, remaining 2,480 residential and 575 commercial plots besides 800 apartments would be auctioned to generate finances for the execution of the project.

The prime minister was informed that primarily it was the responsibility of the provincial government of the KPK instead of the federal government to develop New Balakot City.

The KP government has already acquired land for the purpose.

To be executed under the PPP mode, the tourist resort will include youth hostel, theme park, camping ground and a 3-Star hotel, he was further told.

The project, when completed will not only ease pressure on existing overloaded tourist destinations but would also earn more than Rs7 billion as a result of expected revenue sharing with the government.

The meeting was attended by Railways Minister Azam Khan Swati, Chief Minister KPK Mahmood Khan, MNA Saleh Swati, KPK Population Minister Syed Ahmed Hussain Shah, Chairman NDMA Lt Gen Akhtar Nawaz Satti, and senior officers concerned.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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