Senate body directs completion of CPEC projects on priority
ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives has directed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority to complete the under implementation projects on a fast-track basis by regaining confidence of the Chinese companies.
“According to my personal sources, the Chinese are not happy with the current progress of CPEC projects, as they have approached me to help remove the bottlenecks,” Chairman of the Committee Senator Saleem H Mandviwala said, while presiding over a meeting of the committee.
The chair asked Special Assistant to Prime Minister on CPEC Affairs Khalid Mansoor to take the responsibility of early completion of the under-construction projects and remove all the bottlenecks in the way of approval of the under-consideration mega projects, including upgradation of ML-1 railway project and the hydropower projects.
“My number one priority is to regain the Chinese confidence,” Mansoor said, adding that, in this regard, he had personally met with the representatives of 40 of the 135 Chinese companies working in Pakistan.
“I will take the responsibility of implementation of the projects and I will go myself to all the relevant ministries and divisions to implement the CPEC projects,” he added.
Mandwiwala deplored the government departments were slow and they needed to be pushed to expedite the implementation process.
Responding to the complaints of Senator Danish Kumar about ignoring Balochistan under CPEC, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said that in the first phase of CPEC, two-thirds projects were related to power, which had minimal impact on the local area.
A lot of development work was going on in the province, particularly in Gwadar such as desalination plants, technical training institutes, Eastbay Expressway, etc.
Apart from the projects under CPEC, a special historical package of Rs560 billion had also been announced for the development of the least-developed Southern Balochistan districts under which IT parks, industrial zones, power plants, dams, and road projects would be developed, the minister said.
Further, he said: “We are working on four priority Special Economic Zones (SEZs) under CPEC, one of which was being constructed in Gwadar.”
The one named South Zone has been completed at an area of 60 acres, while the other gigantic 2,500 acres North Zone is under construction in the city, he added.
Umar said that a virgin 100,000 acres of land was lying vacant near Mirani Dam, which would be utilised for the agricultural purposes in which some Chinese investors were interested to develop an agriculture zone.
Senator Danish Kumar said that the ground realities show there was no development in the area. The residents of Gwadar were not enjoying basic facilities, including water and electricity.
Umar proposed the committee to arrange a visit to Southern Balochistan to see the under progress development.
Mandviwala questioned how a new project could be included in the current fiscal year’s development budget, the minister responded that once the development budget is approved by the National Economic Council (NEC), it was not possible to add any new project.
However, he said to include any new project in the next development budget, it should be presented before March 31.
Senator Muhammad Tahir Bizenjo said instead of investing heavily on other projects such as airport, the investment should be poured in the drinking water projects on a priority basis.
Further, he stressed the need to turn N-25 to motorway, as it had become a bloody road and accidents on that road had become a routine matter.
Umar said that the construction of Karachi-Chaman N-25 road project had already been approved. The Khuzdar-Kuchlak section of the N-25 would be funded through the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), while the remaining portion would be constructed through Built Operate Transfer (BOT) basis.
Senator Sardar Muhammad Shafiq Tareen said that the private sector partnership projects were not implementable.
Umar said that the present government was fully committed to complete all the projects under BOT basis on a priority basis and the tariff for road taxes would be determined by the government not by the private sector.
Talking about the electricity problem in Gwadar, the minister said that the biggest problem was that there was no transmission line connected with the national grid.
“[The] Balochistan government has requested the federal government, in this regard, and we have given approval for the project for connecting Gwadar with the national grid and the project would be completed by March 2022,” he added.
Electricity from Iran to Gwadar would also be streamlined and the 300MW coal power plant in the Gwadar city was already under construction. So the electricity problem in the city would be resolved soon, he added.
Khalid Mansoor said that two dams in the vicinity of Gwadar, including Shadikor Dam were filled to their capacity and the connectivity of these dams to the Gwadar city would also be completed in three months.
The water supply was being made through a 2-inch pipeline, which was too narrow to fulfill the need so a 12-inch water pipeline has been approved and was being installed.
Further, the water desalination plants with 1.2 million and 0.5 million each capacity/day were also under construction, he added.
Mansoor said that to resolve the electricity problems, the government was importing solar panels that would be provided to every household in the Gwadar city. The project was being accomplished on most priority.
With respect to the security issue, the SAPM informed that after the recent security attacks, he briefed the Chinese authorities in detail and after the briefing, the Chinese had expressed satisfaction over the security situation.
With respect to the overall CPEC progress, Mansoor said that so far 21 projects worth $15.2 billion had been completed, while 21 projects worth $9.3 billion were under implementation. Similarly, 36 projects of $28 billion were under consideration.
The meeting was informed that under the CPEC socioeconomic development project, the Chinese government had announced a grant of $1 billion but unfortunately due to lukewarm response of the provinces and the departments, only $50 million of the $1 billion could be utilised so far.
With respect to the under-consideration power plants, Mandviwala said until the outstanding dues of $1.2 billion were not paid to the Chinese power producers, they would not go ahead to sign more power plants.
The meeting was further informed that a competitive bidding would have to be arranged for the ML-1 railway project.
The chair said, as per the Chinese estimation, the project’s worth is over $9 billion; however, according to Pakistan Railways, the project could be completed at a cost of $6.8 billion.
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