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Link road to Benazir Airport could become Rs8 billion scam
08-29-2013, 12:29 PM
Post: #1
Link road to Benazir Airport could become Rs8 billion scam
ISLAMABAD: A Rs8 billion scam is brewing in the federal capital where the National Highway Authority is being pushed to construct a road, linking Islamabad and Rawalpindi with the New Benazir Bhutto International Airport (NBBIA), to benefit vested interests while an easy, straight and expansive access to the new facility is readily available which will require much less funds for improvement.



The NHA has been discussing the almost undoable plan with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) and the prime minister was also briefed about the proposed project concealing many facts, well-placed sources in NHA told The News.



“While the construction of the new proposed link obviously will need a heavy price, only a few million would be needed to expand and repair the existing route and build a portion of it afresh,” an official said on condition of anonymity.The NHA Chairman, Maroof Afzal, while talking to The News said that no plan has been finalised yet because the NHA had not completed any feasibility study of the proposed road.



He said that various plans are under consideration, and NHA will have to collect evidence whether the proposed routes to the new airport are economically viable and sustainable or not. He maintained that the NHA will ensure that any road constructed to link the new airport with the capital should be a facility for the public rather than a waste of public money.



According to officials, there will also be serious land acquisition issues, requiring much more money to pay to the landowners whose properties would be acquired to build the entirely new route. Moreover, there is no scope of an expanded road at certain points due to standing structures alongside it.



Also, this mega road project will not be completed till next June when the NBBIA, according to its Project Director Musharraf, would become operational as a number of new bridges and culverts would also have to be constructed besides convincing the Pakistan Army to dismantle the well-built walls of its Central Mechanical Transport & Stores Depot which is spread on at least 2 km on the new proposed route.



The official said the existing link road was officially approved by the NHA some time back for being the most viable and fast track route to the NBBIA. Its technical experts continue to uphold their opinion, which is being ignored now, the official said.



He said that the Aviation Division recently came out with the new proposed link and a presentation was also given to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif without giving the correct picture.The official said that it was wrongly argued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which was building the NBBIA, before higher authorities, that the existing link road has a majorcurve, which would slow down the VVIP traffic coming from or going to the new airport.



Not only the NHA firmly stood for the present road link but the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) and Capital Development Authority (CDA) also supported this view on the ground that this was the most efficient access to the NBBIA. The proposed link, spanning nearly 18 kilometres, is longer compared to the existing route, spread over 16 kilometres as per an official document available with The News.



According to the officials, the most workable and practical route links the NBBIA with Islamabad and Rawalpindi through the Kashmir Highway, which is already built up to the actual Zero Point (still un-constructed) of the Pakistan Motorway. The distance between the Toll Plaza at the Kashmir Highway and the Motorway Zero Point comes up to 12 kilometres. Another four kilometre long road is required to be built to extend the Kashmir Highway from the Zero Point to the NBBIA. No land acquisition generating additional burden on the public exchequer is involved in this route.



The new proposed link will also use the Kashmir Highway till the Toll Plaza. From there, it turns left along Pakistan Army’s CMT&SD (Central Mechanical Transport & Stores Depot) Golra Road, which is about two kilometres long. In this portion, there is little or no scope for expansion of the road as on one side is the 8-feet high cemented wall of the CMT&SD while on the other are built structures, housing mostly furniture shops. Even if the CMT&SD agrees to spare land for the road, it will have to be paid compensation plus its two kilometre long wall will also have to be built.



As Golra Road portion of the new proposed link ends, it crosses the Peshawar Road. A flyover will be built on this crossing, which will certainly entail a heavy cost. From there, the new link enters unplanned populated areas of I-14 sector Islamabad. It will then go ahead on the northern side between I and H sectors, passing by Dhok Patwarian, and touch the Motorway where another bridge will be built to cross the highway. From that point, a new four-kilometre road would be constructed till the NBBIA.
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