CHITRAL: Federalization of two roads – Chitral-Shandur-Gilgit and Chitral-Garam Chashma Dorah Pass – projects initiated by the previous PML-N government, has now created a war of words for credit between a ruling minority MPA and the MNA Chitral even though the federal government approved taking over of the roads after a prolonged delay.
According to a notification issued by the Ministry of Communication Islamabad, the federal cabinet on May 6, 2020, approved the federalization of Chitral to Mastuj, Shandur and Gilgit road and Chitral to Garam Chashma, Dorah Pass road.
The road from Chitral to Gilgit via Shandur is 363 km – 147 km in Chitral and 216 km in Gilgit-Baltistan and is called N 140. The road from Chitral town to Dorah Pass is 82.5 km and is called N 145.
The federalization of two roads means they will be taken over by the federal government for construction and maintenance under National Highway Authority (NHA).
In March 2019, the KP government had approved handing over of these projects to the federal government.
While the NHA could not take over the roads due to inordinate delay in completion of legal formalities by the federal government due to red tape, the provincial communication and works (C&W) department stopped carrying out any repair and maintenance work on the already dilapidated roads, creating more mess for the commuters.
There were also demands in Chitral that the roads should be handed over back to the C&W department so that patchwork could at least be carried out on them.
On May 13, minority MPA Wazirzada, who is also special assistant to the KP chief minister, claimed on social media that the roads have been federalized on his tireless efforts. But MNA Molana Abdul Akber countered him saying the federal government gave the approval after he took the issue on the floor of the National Assembly and authorities concerned.
It is strange how an MPA could claim credit for the federalization or progress of construction work on a road half of which lies in another province (GB) by the federal government.
It is also not yet clear how long it will further take to actually start work on the construction after federalization of roads as the minority MPA himself said it would take further time.
About the delay in the federalization of the projects, Wazirzada told ChitralToday correspondent Muhkam Uddin that it was due to non-completion of legal formalities by the previous government before launching the projects.
It may be noted that the projects have seen delays due to non-allocation of funds since the PTI came to power after the July 25 2018 elections.
Executive Committee of the National Economic Commission (ECNEC) on March 7, 2018, had decided that Chitral-Shandur Road was not left alone to CPEC funding and at the time of approval it was agreed that for this road funds would be allocated via PSDP.
Therefore, an amount of Rs1.5 billion was allocated in PSDP 2018 for that financial year. But soon after coming to power, the PTI government dropped the Shandur road and other projects initiated by the PML-N government from the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) funding.
In the 2018-19 budget, Rs1.5 billion were allocated for Chitral-Shandur Road against its total cost of Rs16.75 billion and Rs1.5 billion for Chitral-Garam Chashma Road.