ISLAMABAD, Aug 1 (APP): Senate Standing Committee on Communications was informed on Monday that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was desirous of quick development of Balochistan and has called for early completion of highway projects in the province.

The committee which met here under the chairmanship of Senator Daud Achakzai was given detailed briefing about the Western route of the China Paksitan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by Chairman National Highway Authority (NHA) Shahid Ashraf Tarar.

The Chairman NHA said that the government was very sincere in completion of Western alignment of the CPEC and Prime Minister who himself has kept the portfolio of the Communications Ministry was interested in early construction of D.I.Khan-Gwadar section of the project.

He apprised the committee that feasibility of Hakla-Burhan section of the western alignment was completed on priority basis and its work started within record one year time. He said it was given priority as the All Parties Conference had issued directive for its construction and it was also necessary to complete missing link between Hazara Motorway and D.I. Khan-Gwadar section.

He said feasibility study of the D.I.Khan-Zhob section of the CPEC would be completed by end of this month and the NHA was ready to immediately start work on its PC-I.

He strongly dispelled the impression given by ceratin elements that Western route was not given top priority.
The Chairman said that the project was included in the short term projects of the CPEC which would be completed before 2020.

He explained that early harvest projects would be completed within three years, short term in 3 to 5 years, medium term in 5 to 10 years and long term in 10 to 15 years.

He clarified that technical feasibility of the proejct was taking time as it was very difficult terrain and after completion of feasibility, the project would be taken up on fast track basis.

Chairman of the committee Daud Achakzai said that if the work on the western alignment was not done at fast pace, doubts would rise in the minds of the people.

The committee members also said that fast pace of the work on the project would stop critics of the CPEC.

The committee issued directive to the NHA to take steps for early possession of the land required for construction of D.I. Khan Surab section of the CPEC. The members said that over 90 per cent of the land needed for the project was public sector land but so far the NHA has not taken its possession.

The NHA chairman assured the committee that a meeting would be held with the Chief Secretary Balochistan for transfer of land to NHA shortly. However the committee decided to call him in its next meeting to get a briefing from him on the issues and seek his help in early transfer of land to NHA.

Earlier the officials of Frontier Works Organization assured the committee that they would clear the dues of petty contractors on Kaghan-Chilas Highway. The committee was informed that this road provided an alternate route for Karakorum Highway and saved hundred kilometer distance.

The issue was raised by the Senator Salahuddin Tirmizi in the Senate, which referred the matter to the committee. The meeting was attended by Senators Usman Khan Kakar, Sajjad Turi, Yousuf Badini, Muhammad Ali Saif, Hassan Mandokhail and Salahuddin Tirmizi.

Besides Secretary Communications, Khalid Masood Chaudhry, senior officials from ministries of defence, finance and planning division also attended the meeting.