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Work on Lowari Tunnel restarts

CHITRAL, Oct 18: After about three year, work on the under-construction Lowari Tunnel has started again, it was learnt here on Thursday. On the other hand, reports said the Executive Committee on National Economic Council (ECNEC) has also approved the revised design of the tunnel from rail to road tunnel that will now cost a sum of Rs18.1 billion. So far the Korean Sambu Company has completed the digging work at a cost of about Rs6.5 billion. This year the government has allocated Rs2 billion to restart the work at the site. Now the company has started work on expansion of the 5.3 metres wide tunnel to 7.3 metres, so that it can be used to accommodate heavy traffic when the country is linked to the Central Asian states through Chitral. It may be recalled that work on the over eight km long tunnel connecting Chitral with the other parts of the country was started in 2005. People of Chitral have been highly critical of the PPP government for suspending work on the project soon after coming to power. Now as the election year is approaching fast, the government has felt that without initiating the project it could not even go to the electorates. When asked, many people here expressed the fear that with the restart of work on the project, the tunnel may remain closed in winter, creating hardship for them. They said that the government should fix sufficient time for travelling through the tunnel when the Lowari Pass route remains closed due to snow. Otherwise, there will be no alternative route for them to travel to and from other parts of the country as the Kunar-Nawa Pass route in Afghanistan is not safe for travel due to the presence of Taliban there. ]]>

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