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Development projects Twin cities but pole apart
12-03-2012, 11:56 AM
Post: #1
Development projects Twin cities but pole apart
ISLAMABAD, Dec 1: It is a tale of two cities. They are called twin cities but they are far from identical, and now even their administrations are poles apart.

As Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s government in Rawalpindi completes development projects within their deadlines, the Capital Development Authority is at a loss about the timeline and the direction of its initiatives.

It is pertinent to mention here that the CDA falls under the Cabinet Division, which works through the Prime Minister’s Office, and not a single mega project started by the Pakistan People’s Party government has been completed in its entirety.

This includes the Kashmir Highway (inaugurated in Feb 2011), Margallah Road (May 2012), Park Enclave housing society (July 2011) and Margallah Retreat housing project (Sep 2011).

A CDA official told Dawn that Park Enclave was due to be completed in December 2012 but its development has been mismanaged by the CDA board.

Meanwhile, the Rs1.2 billion Margalla Road was to be completed by 2014 but its construction has been halted midway because of shortage of funds and political bickering.

“Similarly, the Margallah Retreat housing society is a developed project, however, issues with the developers have landed the CDA in court. Because of the litigation, 58 owners are yet to get their properties from the authority,” he revealed.

The performance of the CDA is in stark contrast with that of the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA), whose officials claim that the Punjab government completed Rs1.3 billion Chandni Chowk Flyover in record three months.

The project was started in Dec 2011 and opened to the public in Feb 2012.

“We also completed the expansion of Peshawar Road in eight months (Mar 2012 to Dec 2012) despite the slow release of grant,” the official said while enumerating RDA’s achievements.

It would be hard for the CDA to emulate RDA overnight as its plate is full with the behemoth Rs3 billion road expansion project of the 11-km Kashmir Highway (from Peshawar Mor to G.T. Road).

The highway upgrades were to be completed by Feb 2013 but because of poor financial situation, the deadline has been pushed down two years to Feb 2015.

According to details gathered by Dawn, CDA had floated a tender for expansion of the highway. Of the proposed five lanes
on each side, two lanes were to be rigid pavements (constructed with concrete) to bear the load of heavy traffic.

A CDA official explained that two contractors were engaged for the southern and northern parts of the Kashmir Highway projects – the northern part of the road is from where the traffic enters into the city from G.T. Road while southern part of the road is the exit point from Peshawar Mor toward G.T. Road.

“The contractor of the northern strip has suspended work since he had not been paid any amount for the last several months,” added the official.

A financial wing official commented that it was former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani who had given the go-ahead for the project.

“The project was started in Feb 2011 and both CDA and the federal government had to bear the cost equally,” said an engineering wing official, “The CDA only paid Rs250 million of its initial share while the federal government paid Rs300 million.”

“You cannot meet the project needs in Rs500 million. Had the CDA board managed the financial issues well from the start of the project, the Kashmir Highway expansion project could have reached 80 percent of its completion by the end of December 2012,” he informed.

When Dawn approached spokesman for the office of the Prime Minister, Shafqat Jalil, he replied: “I will talk to Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and will make a comment after his input.”

On the other hand, spokesman for the CDA Ramzan Sajid commented: “We are going through a financial crunch but the new management has taken up all pending projects like the Kashmir Highway. Chairman CDA Syed Tahir Shahbaz is equally concerned and all the board members are actively working to revive these projects.”

He insisted that release of grants to Kashmir Highway was recently taken up and the chairman would be having meetings with the financial and engineering wing officials over the matter.

“The Kashmir Highway expansion project will be completed within the next year,” asserted the spokesman.

Mr Sajid failed to clarify the reasons for delayed payments and financial constraints hindering the development project.
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