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ISLAMABAD: Many development projects could not be initiated in flood-affected areas due to capacity issues of the provinces, whereas, foreign countries and international donor agencies are ready to finance $ 7.4 billion as pledged under the Geneva Donor conference.

A senior official of Planning Ministry said in an informal chat with a group of journalists on Friday that the international donor agencies are ready to finance the development projects but there are capacity issues, particularly of Balochistan province. He said that a development project of $ 400 million could not be initiated in flood-affected areas of Balochistan due to capacity issues.

He said that the international donor agencies pledged $ 10 billion ($ 7.4 billion for development projects and $2.6 billion for fuel) for development projects in 17 sectors.

Flood-affected areas under 4RF: Implementation of development projects expedited

He said that the World Bank had pledged $2.1 billion, the Asian Development Bank $1.5 billion, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank $1 billion, Saudi Arabia $1 billion, and other countries at the Geneva conference in 2022.

When asked about the grant for projects, he said that there is a $ 850 million grant for development projects.

An official said that Sindh has most of the portion of financing ($7 billion) for flood-affected areas.

He said that there are $500 million for housing.

Answering a question on the delaying of projects, he said that there are capacity and bureaucratic issues of the provinces.

About ML-1 Railway, he said that the government of Pakistan is all set to sign a revised agreement on the ML-1 project at a cost of $ 6.6 billion with China under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) during the prime minister of Pakistan’s upcoming visit to China starting from October 17.

He said that the cost of ML-1 Railway Project has been reduced from $9.8 billion to $6.6 billion due to a decrease in its scope. He said that the strength of overhead bridges has been decreased as some new bridges would be constructed in big cities. He said that the speed of the train would be designed at 160 km/h but it would function at 120 to 140 km/h.

He said that the total length of the Railway track is 1,750 km and it would be completed in three phases. He said that the government of Pakistan will discuss and offer more investment opportunities to Chinese counterparts. He said that a new railway track would not be laid but the existing line would be improved. He said that a total of 134 trains would be functioned on track.

Officials said that no significant improvements have been made to Pakistan’s railway track system since the country’s formation. The nation continues to rely on railway infrastructure that was constructed by the British over 150 years ago, highlighting the urgent need for modernisation and maintenance.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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