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Residents warn of protest against road construction delay

CHITRAL: The residents of Ayun and Kalash valleys of Bumburate, Rumbur and Birir took out a protest rally against the inordinate delay in starting of work on expansion of a key road.

The rally later converted into a public meeting.

Addressing the protesters in Ayun, the local leaders gave the government a month to start work on the road, or they would lock down the region.

They said the road linking Ayun village and the Kalash valleys to the Chitral-Peshawar Road was constructed in 1930s by the British primarily as a pony track, which was converted into a road in 1960s, but without expansion. 

They regretted that almost 100 per cent of tourists, who visited Chitral, also visited the Kalash valleys, and even the ministers, advisers and high-ranking government officers toured the valleys for leisure trips. But, they never thought of widening the road, whose average width was only six feet.

The protesters said every government, including the incumbent set-up, hoodwinked the residents by making tall claims of allocating huge funds for the road, but they failed to materialise their word.

The residents complained that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had announced Rs4 billion for the road expansion during a public meeting in Chitral in 2016, but nothing came out of it. They added the PTI-led government had also announced Rs4.65 billion last year for the road project.

They said they had pinned hopes Wazir Zada of Rumbur valley when he was elevated to the position of special assistant to chief minister that he would ensure expansion of the road, but to no avail. 

“He (Wazir Zada) is now more interested in development of other areas at the cost of his own valley,” lamented a protester, saying MNA from Chitral Maulana Akbar Chitrali should resign over his failure to execute the project.

They said the local people would hold peaceful rallies and meetings in all the three valleys and in Ayun, and would also block the road leading to the Kalash valleys if their demand was not met.–Dawn (Zahiruddin. pic: Bashir Hussain Azad)

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