Islamabad       -      The government is trying to secure loan at the lowest interest rate of two percent for the ML-I as 80 percent design work of the project has been completed.

The disclosure was made here by the government officials while briefing the senate standing committee on Planning Development and Reforms. The committee met here with Senator Agha Shahzaib Durrani The Senate Standing Committee Development and Reform in its meeting on Thursday discussed various issues related to Nae Gaj dam, ML-I, toll tax on Motorway and G.T road. The committee stressed the need for maintenance of GT Road. The need to improve fencing on motorways and increase in surveillance was also emphasized.  Issues taken up included design and upgrade of ML-1 and establishment of a dry port near Havelian. A detailed briefing on increase in Toll-Tax was also given.

The Federal Minister for Planning Development and Reforms Asad Umar told the committee that that he has issued direction that no unapproved project should be included in the next PSDP. In future no project will be included in PSDP till the land is purchased for it and it is approved from the concerned forum, Asad Umar added. The Minister for Planning Development and Reform Asad Umar said that in future it will made clear in advance that whether the project will be funded by the Federal government or the concerned province. We have seen the fate of Karachi Green Line and other projects, he added.

Discussing design, drawings and upgrade of Main Line (ML-1) and establishment of Dry Port near Havelian, the Committee was informed that 80 percent of design work of the ML-I has been completed. The project is going to cost more than $9 billion and the government is trying to get loan for the project on around two percent interest. If it was done than it will be the lowest interest rate amongst all the CPEC projects. The Project will increase line speed and capacity and freight volume.   The Committee directed that traffic count of M1, M2 and M9 must be submitted to the Committee within a week.  Keeping account of traffic congestion, it was recommended that a traffic strategy must be formulated as well.

While discussing compliance on various recommendations, progress on Naigaj Dam came under discussion.  Chairman of the Committee said that WAPDA is holding Planning commission responsible for the delay in the project. The committee was revealed that letters have been written to WAPDA and others to take action against those responsible for the delay.

The Committee decided that an exclusive meeting would be held on this issue and that a response from the Department of Irrigation, Government of Sindh must be sought within a week. While taking up the issue of 300 scholarships in less developed areas for female students the Committee was informed that a proposal had been made. However, a program in conjunction with the Ehsas Program is being launched that is planning to award 50000 scholarships, this way more than the previously suggested quantum.  HEC recommended that the Committee should wait until this program is launched and once a report is submitted, if it fails to convince the members, 300 scholarships, mentioned earlier will be added as per Committee recommendations.