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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal said that Rs900 billion has been approved for the power plants of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam.

While talking to the media, the minister said that the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) approved a power project of the Rs900 billion Diamir-Bhasha Dam project and referred it to the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) for further approval.

He said that the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government had spent Rs120 billion for acquiring land for Diamer-Bhasha Dam. He said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had approved Rs428 billion for the project but it was delayed and its cost had reached Rs750 billion but the previous government showed it as Rs480 billion.

He said the previous government did not revise the project cost and did not give any financial plan for the additional cost of around Rs225 billion. He said that the CDWP has approved Rs250 billion Chashma Right Bank Canal (Stage II), and referred with the recommendation to the ECNEC for further approval

He said that the project that was lingering on for 30 years would help irrigating 275,000 acres of lands in the southern districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. He said that out of the total cost, the federal government would spend 65 per cent while the rest 35 per cent funds would be spent by the KP government.

Diamer-Bhasha dam: New project completion deadline set

He said that the project had a long standing issue and the current government took this project on priority and approved and included in the federal Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2022-23. He said that the federal government would try to complete the project as early as possible to bring a revolution in the agriculture sector of the KP province.

Ahsan Iqbal further informed that on the direction of the prime minister, the Chaman-Quetta-Karachi (N-25) dualisation road project had also been approved.

He said the government was giving special priority to the Balochistan road network to improve the socioeconomic condition of the local residents.

He said that there was a shortage of electricity near the Makran coastal areas where Pakistan was getting 100MW of electricity from Iran. He said as this quantity of electricity was not sufficient to meet the requirement; therefore, he had met with the Iranian Ambassador in Pakistan who assured that an agreement for additional 100MW electricity from Iran would be finalised soon.

The minister said he had also directed the concerned authorities to complete the 29-kilometer transmission line on the Pakistan side within three to four months.

He said that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had also been given the task to complete the construction of the New Gwadar International Airport by March 2023. He said that the water desalination plant in Gwadar would also be completed by October this year.

Answering a question, he said that the coalition government had started talks with the Chinese side to start the long-standing ML-1 railway project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He said both sides have agreed to start the project. He hoped that work on the project might start within a year.

The minister said that in the previous four years, the previous government did not work on the project; therefore, the cost of the project had been increased.

So now, he said the Chinese contractors are asking for the cost revision; therefore, both Pakistan railways’ authorities and the Chinese contractors were engaged in reviewing the terms of financing. The minister said dualization project of Chaman-Quetta, and Karachi road N-25 has also been approved.

He said road infrastructure in Balochistan has been prioritized in the upcoming budget which is aimed at providing a well-laid network of roads in the province that will help provide people with better health, employment, and education opportunities.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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