ISLAMABAD, Jan 18: The National Highway Authority (NHA) has flatly refused to allow the Chitral-bound trucks stranded at Dir side to cross the Lowari tunnel, terming the demand a conspiracy of the timber, mineral, grain and oil mafias. “There is absolutely no problem for the poor people of Chitral and the problem is of the VIPs [and] I’m sorry we can’t facilitate the elite at the expense of the poor Chitralis as the tunnel is for them,” a top NHA official in Islamabad told ChitarlToday on the condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to talk to the media on record. He was of the view that the politically influential people of Chitral were worried about their timber and mineral smuggling business. “Their names are on my finger tips. We’ve sent their videos to relevant authorities identifying who is involved in what illegal activity,” he added. He said the people of Chitral were being exploited by politicians, adding majority of these political elite never uttered a single word about the matter when they were holding ministerial positions enjoying government perks and privileges both at the federal and provincial level.
There is no shortage of any edible items in Chitral. The oil stocks are replenished and if there is shortage of wheat why is the district food controller not been taken to task for his negligence as the tunnel was open for nine months,” NHA official.He also said the NHA had given Rs35 million to the army to clear the snow on Lowari top which was why the road was still open. But this is very unfortunate that some people want the NHA to keep the window of their vehicles open besides offering them hot coffee at the tunnel upon their arrival,” he lamented. To a question he said that nobody had stopped transporting dead bodies to Chitral while patients are also being allowed in case of any emergency. About killing of a large number of poultry due to cold weather at Dir side of the tunnel, he said: “Let them die as we couldn’t close billions of rupees projects for the sake of supplying poultry to people who prefer eating chicken in winter”. However, background interviews with some top officials at the NHA revealed that there was very minor chance to allow the tunnel for truckers as well as keeping it open for eight hours on a daily basis as demanded by the political parties. They said the opening of the tunnel for longer hours was also not possible due to technical difficulties, including lack of ventilation, lightning and rescue services. There is also the risk of boulder falling and water leakage inside the under-construction tunnel.]]>