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NHA not satisfied with security at Lowari tunnel

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel was informed on Wednesday that the mega project of Lowari tunnel, connecting Chitral with the rest of the country, would be completed by 2017 if the government ensured uninterrupted funding to the project. The National Assembly standing committee on communication that met here with MNA Sufyan Yusuf in the chair was briefed by Chairman National Highway Authority (NHA) Shahid Ashraf Tarar about the pace of work at the tunnel, which was initiated by former president Pervez Musharraf. The panel was informed that original PC-I had estimated Rs7.983 billion and later revised PC-I was approved with an escalating cost of Rs18.132 billion. However, delay in completion of the project further raised the cost to Rs26.954 billion. About Rs9.9 billion has already been spent on 32 percent construction work of the project, Tarar said, adding Rs2 billion has been earmarked for the project in the federal budget 2014-15, which might not be sufficient. Tarar further enlightened the committee members that revised design of the project after 2005 and 2006 earthquake followed by 2010 flashfloods are the major causes of delay and escalating cost of the project. tunnelHinting at other causes, he said the work on project remained suspended for 10 months during military operation in Malakand division in 2009-10. According to the NHA top official, the conversion of Lawari rail tunnel into a road tunnel in July 2009 and redesign and revision of PC-I were also the reason for delay to complete the mega project. The NHA boss also revealed that three-and-half-years were required to complete civil, electric and mechanical works inside the tunnel. He also informed the panel that NHA has requested the federal government to release Rs10 billion till 2015-16 to ensure timely completion of the project. He further stated that during 2016-17, Rs4.880 billion will be needed while Rs3.300 billion should be available in 2017-18 so that mega project could be completed, giving a sigh of relief to the landlocked district of Chitral. Tarar criticized the district administration Chitral, especially the deputy commissioner, for their negligence to provide adequate security to the Korean engineers undertaking the construction work at the tunnel. He requested the parliamentary panel to ensure security to the foreigners, saying any negligence and security lapse could badly affect the construction work as the local administration of Chitral was not taking the issue of security to the foreigners seriously.]]>

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