The cost of Islamabad Safe City Project has increased by 25 percent, after the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) refused to grant tax exemption to the equipments imported for the project, taking the revised cost of the project to Rs 14.865 billion and a fresh summary, for the approval of new expenditures, has been moved to the CDWP, it is learnt reliably here.

The earlier estimated cost of the Safe City Islamabad was Rs11.865 billion which is gone to Rs14.865 billion showing an increase of Rs 3 billion due to FBR refusal, official sources told The Nation. The equipment for the project has already arrived, and the Ministry of Interior is paying the storage and demurrage charges since March this year, the source informed.

The taxes and duties were not accounted at the time of inception of Safe City Project considering security related projects in which exemption are generally granted by FBR and Ministry of Finance, the source maintained.

The project is envisaged to implement physical infrastructure and allied facilities to prevent citizens and their properties from security threats and terrorism attacks, the source maintained. The project to be completed in October this year is sponsored by interior division and is executed by National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).

The project will create an effective and adequate security framework in Islamabad by incorporating strategies preventing unauthorised access of vehicles and individuals entering and operating within the federal capital, the source explained. It will introduce a prudent monitoring and surveillance system to monitor /record the movement of unauthorised vehicles and persons, the source added.

The scope of the project included establishment Emergency Command Centers across Islamabad to report, identify, control and manage any accident or disaster by efficiently making use of limited resources, the source maintained. The use of smart ID cards, Electronics RFID tags, Smart Vehicle Registration and Smart Driver Licence for authentication of vehicles and individuals is also part of the project.

CCTV cameras and RFID tag readers will be installed at key points across the city, to provide an effective monitoring and control system. Moreover, RFID tag readers and electronics access control hardware i.e. turnstiles, barriers and blockers placed at key access points of designated or building, for providing an effective monitoring and control. The project would equip law enforcement agencies with a computer aided dispatch system and other software such as facial recognition and vehicle management system.

Under the plan close to 1950 surveillance cameras would be installed in the capital and a bombproof command centre of 2000 sq meters was to be built, to which all the cameras would be connected through 500kms of fiber optic cable, operated through a 4G network, the source informed. The existing telecom infrastructure of National Telecommunication Company (NTC) will need to be upgraded to provide adequate support to this project, the source added.

It is pertinent to mention here that the project was approved by the then government of PPP following an agreement between Pakistan and China and the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) had approved it on November 11 2011.

However, the project was challenged in the Supreme Court and a three-member bench on August 23, 2012 struck down the contract and directed the NAB to proceed against the then prime minister and other officials for violating the rules in awarding the contract to a Chinese firm.

However after the PML-N came to power, the project was renegotiated with Chinese firm and the two sides agreed to undertake the project under the same terms and conditions agreed upon in 2009.

The Chinese government has provided $124.975 million (Rs 11.865 billion), under soft loan, for the project, and the government of Pakistan will provide Rs 3 billion, on account of duties and taxes on import of equipment to FBR.