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Stalled project: Leh Expressway shelved, again
09-17-2012, 01:08 PM
Post: #1
Stalled project: Leh Expressway shelved, again
Stalled project: Leh Expressway shelved, again

RAWALPINDI: While the Punjab government is busy in constructing flyovers on the Benazir Bhutto Road, the much-awaited Leh Expressway project seems to have been put on the backburner, once again.

The expressway is considered an important project in the infrastructure of the garrison city where no major road has been constructed during the past 12 years to ease the traffic congestion on the BB Road formerly known as Murree Road.

Officials of the city district government, Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) and local politicians also seem to have a consensus on the implementation of the project.

The Punjab government had allocated Rs500 million for initial works on the project, while the Punjab chief minister, Shahbaz Sharif during his visit to the city in June, had given the nod to start the stalled project.

A committee was formed three months back to work out a strategy with the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO), which was given the project’s contract. However, since then, no progress has been made, said a senior official of the RDA, adding that the project has been shelved for the time being.

The project was initiated by military dictator General Pervez Musharraf in March 2007. Under the project, two signal-free roads were to be constructed on both sides of Nullah Leh to provide hassle-free vehicular movement from Rawalpindi to Islamabad. It also included pavement of Leh and reworking sewerage lines from New Katarian to Jhanda Chichi Bridge. However, the project was scrapped by the PML-N government in 2008.

“The project was never ignored, but it could not be started due to its high cost and lack of funds with the provincial government at the same time,” said the official. Initially estimated to cost Rs18 billion, the project will now be completed for Rs23 billion.

Another RDA official, who remained close to the project, said the government has decided to complete the project in phases, adding that roads from Katarian Bridge to BB Road on Mehal Bridge will be constructed in the first phase. However, he feared that the work might not begin this year, as the project’s PC-II was still with the authorities in Lahore.

When approached for comments, Punjab’s ruling party MPA Shehryar Riaz dispelled the notion that the project had been shelved, adding that it has been included in the annual development programme.

He said that the committee was working out a strategy for the expressway, which he said should be constructed sooner than later as it is inevitable for the city’s growing traffic.
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