Islamabad, November 15, 2012 (PPI-OT): Federal Minister for Communication Dr. Arbab Alamgir Thursday said that the construction of Lawari Tunnel would open up a new international trade route via Pakistan to the landlocked Central Asian States making this region a hub of enhanced commercial activities.
The present PPP Government would complete the dream project Lawari Tunnel costing Rs. 18.13 billion initiated by the founding leader of the Party Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1974.
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf who was to perform g ground breaking ceremony of construction work on widening of Lawari Tunnel project was postponed due to inclement weather. This gigantic project connects Dir with Chitral District which remained cut off from rest part of the country for five months due to heavy snow fall during winter season. The commencement of construction work on widening of Lawari Tunnel from 5.3 meter to 7.5 meter formally started on November 15.
Talking to media men at the site of Lawari Tunnel the Federal Minister declared in clear terms that this is our project and we will complete it at any cost come what may. This project envisioned by our great leader Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1974 would be gifted to the people of Chitral with whom Shaheed ZAB had special affiliation. Resource constraints would not be made a hurdle in the completion of this project, he added.
President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf were taking keen interest in the early completion of the project which on completion would open up new trade route to central Asian States. Tajikistan has shown keen interest in execution of the project as it falls four hundred km from the tunnel site.
The credit goes to the present democratic government of PPP which expedited work on this difficult and gigantic project which could rightly be called a piece of tunnel engineering.
Arbab Alamgir said that construction of the Lawari Tunnel was a long standing demand of the people of Chitral which is being completed in this democratic government. The project of completion would ensure round the year communication links of Chitral with rest part of the country. The project would usher in a new era of socio economic development in the region besides creating new avenues of development and provision of opportunities to the local population, Arbab said.
Minister for Communication said the project would bring this region in the mainstream of national development which would also promote small industries and handicrafts in the area. This area is endowed with God gifted natural resources, therefore its exploration was of paramount importance for economic point of view. He said the area has potential of tourism which would flourish after this area remained opened for the tourists throughout the area.
The project has got international importance after the government of Tajikistan showed keen interest for its early completion as it would proved an opportunity for enhance trade links between Islamabad and Dushanbe .
The Tunnel having 8.6 km length is being constructed on Nowshehra-Mardan-Malakand-Chakdara and Chitral highway. The project which was initially planned for construction of a rail tunnel has now been converted into one way road tunnel having the facility of emergency lane as well.
According to the project around 50% work on this mega project has been completed while the ECNEC has approved its revised PC-1 costing rupees 18.13 billion. As of now rupees 6.4 billion has been spent on the project whereas rupees 2 billion have been allocated in PSDP 2012-13.
The Korean construction company SAMBU has started work on the widening of the Tunnel so that could be used for the trade purpose. The excavation of the Tunnel has been completed in 2009, however after its conversion from rail tunnel into road tunnel the width of the tunnel has been expended from 5.3 meter to 7.3 meter.
The project documents also explained certain reasons for the delay in the construction of the project, commonly main the 2009 military operation which struck up work on the project for 7-8 months and torrential rains followed by flash floods in 2006, 2007 and 2010.
Earlier GM Lawari Tunnel Project Col ® Salman Rasheed brief the Chief Secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ghulam Dastagir Khan and IGP Akbar Khan Hoti ahout salient features of the project. Secretary Communication Anwar Ahmad Khan and Chairman NHA Iqbal Ahmad Awan were present on the occasion.
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