ISLAMABAD - The ministry of planning, development and reform Saturday said that the Western Route is part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and it would be completed as soon as possible to ensure uplift of the less developed areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. Referring to an article titled “Western route not part of CPEC", published in a section of press, the ministry’s spokesman said that the statement is completely incorrect, baseless and wrongly attributed to the Minister for Planning, Development and Reform. Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar has time and again stated on different forums that Western route is part of CPEC and contracting Chinese financing for the Western route project ‘Up-gradation of D.I.Khan (Yarik) - Zhob, Phase-I (210 km)’ is one of the important deliverables for the next Joint Cooperation Committee of CPEC, scheduled to be held in the 3rd week of this month, he told.  As per the approved plan of CPEC, the spokesman said the Western route consists of Peshawar-Burhan/Hakla Yarik/ D.I.Khan - Mughalkot - Zhob - Quetta – Sorab – Basima - Hoshab and Gwadar section.  Construction work on Hakla-D.I.Khan section is underway and planned to be completed in 2019. D.I.Khan-Zhob section of western alignment was approved by the ECNEC in April 2017, for which financing options are under discussion.

Other two remaining sections, Zhob – Kutchlak / Quetta and Quetta - Sohrab are in feasibility study stage. The government is committed to the socio-economic development of less developed areas and attaches top priority to uplift of these areas and eradicate poverty, he clarified.

A number of development initiatives in Balochistan under CPEC are in different stages of planning and implementation.

 The projects include Khuzdar- Basima N-30 Road, Naukundi-Mashkhel-Panjgur Road connecting with M-8 and N-85, Quetta Water Supply Scheme from Pat feeder Canal, Quetta Mass Transit System, Bostan Industrial Zone, 1,320MW Coal-fired Power Plant at Hub, 300 MW Gwadar Power Project, Gwadar Eastbay Expressway, Gwadar International Airport, Construction of Breakwaters, Dredging of berthing areas and channels, Infrastructure for Free Zone and EPZs port related industries, Necessary Facilities of Fresh Water Treatment and Supply, Pak China Friendship Hospital at Gwadar, Technical and Vocational Institute at Gwadar and Gwadar smart port city Plan. Moreover, the present government attaches top priority to the development of Gwadar on the principles of blue economy, the spokesman added.

He said that deliberations are underway to establish Oil City at Gwadar aimed at substituting refined oil imports with crude oil, promotes the development of aquaculture for fisheries and seafood along the coastal area and coastal tourism.