ISLAMABAD - Central Development Working Party(CDWP) Thursday approved 17 development projects worth Rs 178.3 billion and forwarded 6 mega projects, including RBOD-I-II and III, to Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) for further approval.

The CDWP approved projects in transport & communications, energy, water resources, information technology, higher education, physical planning & housing, health and governance sectors. The meeting was chaired by Federal Minister and Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Ahsan Iqbal and was attended by officials from different ministries and provincial governments.

The CDWP has given go ahead to Right Bank Outfall Drain I, II and III worth Rs 90.2 billion and recommended it to ECNEC for further approval. The cost of RBOD-I is Rs 17.5 billion, RBOD-II Rs 61.9 billion and RBOD-III Rs 10.8 billion. The project was referred by ECNEC to CDWP for revision and reconsideration. The RBOD-II project was reconsidered by the CDWP in March 2017 wherein the financing mechanism of flood component of RBOD-II was discussed in detail. After agreement by the Sindh government to share the flood protection cost (Rs 7 billion), the project was approved by CDWP.

In transport and communication sector, CDWP recommended three projects of Rs43.2 billion to ECNEC.CDWP recommended CAREC (Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation) Corridor Development Investment Program Tranche-I Projects to ECNEC for approval. The project is part of CAREC Corridor road network 5 & 6 which connects Pakistan up north to China and west through Afghanistan respectively. The Rs 24.7 billion Asian Development Bank financed project envisages improving 208 km of N-55 road in three sections including Petaro to Sehwan Section dualization, 128 km, Ratodero to Shikarpur Section dualization, 44 km, including construction of 2 km bypass at Lakhi town to avoid huge cost of land and impacts of resettlements and rehabilitation of existing dual carriageway from Darra Adam Khel to Peshawar Section, 36 km.

Construction of Shaheed Benazir Bhtto Bridge over Indus with Guide Banks linking N-5 with N-55 including approach roads worth Rs 9.8 billion was also approved by CDWP. The revised project envisages construction of 1.2 km and 11.9 meter wide two lanes single carriageway bridge across River Indus, connecting district Ranjanpur (Mithankot), located on the National Highway (N-55) with district Rahim Yar Khan (Chachran), located on the National Highway (N-5).

Minister PD&R, Ahsan Iqbal questioned National Highway Official that why the project PC1 was brought for approval after five years as the Hydraulic Model Study for the project was conducted in 2012. He instructed for constitution of a committee under Member Infrastructure Planning Commission to conduct enquiry and fix responsibility for such delay, saying no such negligence would be tolerated in future.

Another project in transport & communication sector that CDWP forwarded to Ecnec for further approval is Rs 8.6 billion project for the construction of Chitral – Garam Chashma - Doraha Pass Road (82.5 km). The project envisages construction, rehabilitation, improvement and widening of existing 82.5 km and 3.65 meter wide road to a width of 7.3 meter of Chitral - GaramChashma to Doraha Pass. The scope of work also includes elimination of major causeways to have all weather road, construction of 10 km new road on other side of Lutkho River for tourist activities with allied facilities & stretches. The project has been taken up as a result of announcement of the Prime Minister during his recent visit to Chitral.

Ahsan Iqbal instructed to recommend this project to ECNEC with its original scope as the project could prove as a major linkage between Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia, serving as an international trade route in future.

In physical planning & housing sector, CDWP approved two projects worth 29.4 billion. In physical planning, CDWP recommended Punjab Intermediate Cities Improvement Investment Program’ worth Rs27.2 billion to ECNEC. The project includes transforming the selected urban areas of Sailkot and Sahiwal into green, inclusive, resilient and comparative smart cities with improved livability supporting social and economic growth through improved municipal governance, integrated urban planning, improved service delivery, efficient local mobility and climate resilient infrastructure and introduction of IT for city service delivery improvement with the framework of SMART City. The chair recommended cost rationalization for this project to be completed with the support of Asian Development Bank.

Similarly, the CDWP also approved the project of Rural Sanitation through Saaf Suthro Sindh (SSS). This Sindh government project of 2.2 billion rupees would be financed by Asian Development Bank.

CDWP further approved two projects in information technology sector worth Rs 2.7 billion. It includes e-office (basic common applications) replication at divisions of federal government. The e-office or e-filing system comprising of six modules which were developed as pilot project at ministry of information technology, including internal communications & movement of files, human resource management system, inventory & procurement management system, project management system, finance, planning & budgeting, internal portal. Ahsan Iqbal instructed to ensure CDWP meetings to be held through e-office system in future.

Another IT sector project approved includes Pakistan Post Reform Initiatives: Automation of Post Offices. The proposed project will facilitate Pakistan Post and improve public service at its business units. This will also provide value added services including Online Post Stores, Mobile Card Top-Ups through Mobile Companies to Pakistan Post clients in future. Automation of Pakistan Post will improve financial control, ensure accurate assessment of budget estimates, improve customer service, decrease workload on Pakistan Post staff and extend additional facilities to public. The project would be completed through Korean soft loan.

The Planning Commission Forum approved Rs 104.7 million energy sector project ‘Hiring Consultancy Services for Third Party Validation of Neelum Jhehlum Hydropower Project. The project will broadly include validation of actual cost incurred under various phases, assessment of cost of various activities as per awarded contracts and evaluation, assessment of delays and cost overrun thereof, in order to determine value for money. Minister Ahsan Iqbal instructed to prepare ToRs to ensure realistic and clear evaluation of the project.

The meeting also approved three projects in health sector worth Rs 1.2 billion which include strengthening of health services Academy, Islamabad, establishment of safe blood transfusion services project phase II, KP and establishment of medical device development center (MDDC) at NUST. The MDDC project envisages of development of medical devices including stents.

CDWP approved a Rs 2.4 billion agriculture project promotion of olive cultivation on commercial scale in Pakistan besides giving go ahead to Economic Affairs Division project ‘Strengthening of External Debt Management worth 64 million.

In education sector, CDWP approved three projects worth Rs9.7 billion, including Award of Scholarship to Students from Gwadar, Science Talent Farming Scheme and mega project ‘Award of Allama Muhammad Iqbal 3000 Scholarships to Afghan Students’.

Under the project Award of Scholarship to Students from Gwadar, students will be facilitated to get higher education at Pakistan’s universities and learn Chinese language abroad. Under the project Award of Allama Muhammad Iqbal Scholarships to Afghan Students’, 3000 students would be facilitated to get higher education in Pakistan’s universities. The project also envisages short professional training to Afghan civil servants.