ISLAMABAD - The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Communications Monday took serious notice of a huge cost difference between the project cost-I and the revised plans relating to different National Highway Authority projects.

According to a press release, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Communications met in Muzaffarabad under the chair of Muhammad Muzammil Qureshi.

During the meeting, it was observed that the cost of Muzaffarabad-Chakothi road had been revised and increased significantly. Similarly, the cost of Kohala-Muzaffarabad section of the road had also been revised and the estimates in the revised PC was much higher than the original PC-I. The committee showed its serious concerns and directed the NHA to give the reasons for this increase.

Similarly, it was noticed that both the projects were not completed timely. The committee observed that it was not acceptable that each project was delayed and then the cost was increased two-fold. The committee directed the NHA to furnish an investigative report explaining the reasons for the delay in timely execution of the projects.

The committee was apprised that presently Murree-Kohala roads were in the provincial control. The committee was told that the prime minister has directed the NHA to prepare a feasibility of a new road from Lower Topa to Muzaffarabad via Patriata. The committee directed that after the study, the PC-I may also be prepared and furnished to the committee.

 The committee also reviewed the projects of Athmaqam-ShardaKel-Taobut Road and Neelam Valley Shonter-Astore (Gilgit-Baltistan) Road.

The NHA officials informed the committee that there was 35-kilometre road including a tunnel at Shonter Valley and after its completion, the distance between Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK will be shortened and the travel time will be reduced by five hours. However, it was noticed that the travel time between Islamabad and Astor would be reduced by about seven hours. It was appraised that the project was in its initial stage. The committee directed the officials that the work on the project may be expedited. The committee directed that the project may be included in the next PSDP. The meeting was also attended by Chaudhary Khalid Javaid Warraich, Sanjay Parwani, Nazir Ahmed Bughio, Shahjehan Muneer Mangrio and other officials.