PESHAWAR: Peshawar High Court (PHC) bench has sought comments from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority and three other government bodies in a petition seeking direction for the government for early completion of N-45 (Chakdara to Chitral highway) as part of CPEC’s western route.
The bench consisting of PHC Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Ijaz Anwar directed that four of the respondents including the CPEC Authority through its chairman, Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC), National Highway Authority and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Highway Authority should submit their respective replies within three weeks.
The petition was filed by two residents of Dir Lower district – Rahim Shah Akhunkhail and Prof Wali Rahman. They have requested the court that apart from N-45, the court may also direct the government to expedite work on the 29.6-kilometre Dir Expressway from Chakdara to Rabat.
The petitioners’ counsel Malik Mohammad Ajmal Khan stated that China had started the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) worldwide and one of its projects was commonly known as CPEC.
He said according to official documents, N-45 was part of CPEC. He said that as per available record, all the projects under CPEC were categorised as completed projects, under-construction projects and pipeline projects. He added that N-45 had duly been approved by the ECNEC as a western route and under-construction project.
He claimed that the respondents had been delaying the project. He stated that another project was that of Dir Expressway, a 29.6-kilometre long road to be completed at a cost of Rs38.8 billion. He added that its PC-I had already been completed and was mentioned as a pipeline project.
The counsel stated that another project was that of Shandur-Chitral Road, an alternate route of Karakoram Highway. It would be 153-kilometre long and would cost $16 billion. He stated that it was showed as an under-construction project and its ground breaking ceremony had taken place in April 2021.
The counsel stated that there was also a proposal to extend Dir Expressway to China by stretching it around 214-kilometre at a cost of Rs339 billion.
Mr Ajmal stated that the Chakdara to Timergara section of N-45 called as Section-1 would be about 38.85-kilometre and would include the widening and rehabilitation of the said route.
He claimed that the route from Chakdara to Timergara was shown as under-construction but there was nothing on record about the route from Timergara to Dir.
He argued that Article 19A of Constitution guaranteed the right to information of a citizen, and under the said article the petitioners wanted to know about the money spent so far from the public exchequer on the N-45 route and Dir Expressway.
He contended that delay in construction of the said roads was an injustice with the inhabitants of the areas from where these roads would be passing.
He claimed that provincial government had also been interested in construction of the 82-kilometre long Chakdara to Fatehpur, Swat Expressway Phase II, due to which it had been delaying the other road projects.