ISLAMABAD Yet another example of ill-planning and myopic vision is the multibillion Lowari Tunnel Project that remained a planned rail project for two decades until the realisation that only road construction was feasible in the terrain. The authorities, under the previous regime, even constructed platforms on both sides of the tunnel but later, after thorough deliberation, they realised that it would be best to convert the tunnel into a road project that could save the national kitty, according to an investigation study carried out by TheNation. The 'Lowari Tunnel project, an 8.6 Km long and 11000ft high tunnel, (located in the NWFP province) was originally conceived in the 1970s and work on the tunnel began in 1974. It is not out of place to mention here that the transport and communication experts had long ago questioned the possibility of the rail project, saying it needed uninterrupted electric supply, which is already an issue in the country. Yes, uninterrupted electric supply was the basic prerequisite for Rail project. There was need of two KV Generators, with plenty of Diesel, at both ends, Federal Minister for Communications Dr Arbab Alamgir admitted, while talking to TheNation. It merits mentioning here that the delay in the mega project was due to political and security reasons, but it was restarted in 2005. The previous regime also announced to complete work on it in four to five years. Sources said that even at one stage this government received a termination letter from the contractors of the project due to lack of funds to complete the huge project. By using money specified from 'road maintenance it was arranged to save the project as there was a strong chance for its termination, revealed the sources. It was learnt that a summary for converting the old mega rail project into road project had also been forwarded to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani a couple of weeks before. By the end of last year, Communication Minister, Chairman NHA and other relevant communication and transport officers, after detailed deliberations, reached the consensus for conversion of the rail tunnel into 'road tunnel. It was guessed that the original cost of the road project was Rs 16.1 billion while the rail tunnel could cost Rs 17.60 billion to national exchequer. It is also a known fact that number of times the deadline for the project has been given, but still the work is underway. The first phase 'Holing on the countrys mega project has been completed. After completion 'the Lowari Tunnel will reportedly reduce the current 14-hour drive from Chitral to Peshawar by half. People of Chitral have to travel from Afghanistan and then enter back in Pakistan during the winter season as Lowari top is closed for any traffic for most part of the year, but after this Lowari project link it will be easy for the people to access there. When contacted, Communication Minister Dr.Arbab Alamgir Khan said that a summary for its conversion has been moved to Prime Ministers Secretariat. There is a strong possibility of its approval, he said and admitted that we had used 'Road and Maintenance funds to stop the termination of project. The government, after taking all stakeholders including political leaders and people from civil society of Chitral and Dir districts into confidence, has decided to convert Lowari Rail tunnel into a road tunnel which would also save about Rs 1.5 billion, the Minister explained. The Minister also argued that he raised the issue with Dr.Goulfar, a consultant authority for the tunnel, as to why he did not suggest the road project to the then concerned authorities, when the rail tunnel possibility was questionable. Expressing his satisfaction over South Korean construction company, SAMBU, the Minister said that they are doing good work on the important project.