PESHAWAR - The federal government has closed down two ongoing Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) funded projects in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, leaving the projects of light engineering cluster of Mardan and Weavers Association of Swat in limbo, sources said on Wednesday.
“The federal government had launched Rs40 million Common Facilitation and Training Centre (CFTC) project for the light engineering cluster of Takhtbai, district Mardan and Common Facilitation Centre (CFC) for weavers Association of Islampur, district Swat. The projects were implemented through the Ministry of Industries and Production,” they added.
For the CFTC, they said that machinery was purchased while land was provided by the local blacksmiths association. “It was responsibility of the federal government to conduct three-year operation of the project and after ending the period it was to be handed over to the association concerned,” they informed.
They said the project was approved in 2009 but due to delay in the release of fund it was delayed for two years. “Fifty 50 per cent fund of the project has been spent on the purchase of machinery and completion of civil work but fund for operation purposes is not available so far,” they stated.
The second Rs30 million CFC project for the Weavers Association of Islampur, Swat was also approved in 2009-10. The purpose of the project was rehabilitation of the cluster affected by the conflict and devastated flood of 2010.  However, in case of this project, the land was purchased while civil work was in progress.
Main purpose of the project is to rehabilitate the conflict and flood affected entrepreneurs. The shawls manufactured in the area had a big demand in both local and foreign markets.
The association had received a lot of export orders but due to closure of the project they will not be in position to improve the quality of their products and will not meet the demands of exporters.
In this connection, when The Nation contacted, President Blacksmiths Association Takhtbai Haji Rehmanullah rejected the decision of the federal government and demanded its immediate withdrawal.
 He said that civil work of the project was in final phase and the required machinery had also been purchased. Therefore, he demanded of the federal government for the release of the fund for the project. The closure of the project, he said would affect the business of hundreds of small and medium entrepreneurs.
The project, he said would not only extend technical assistance to the local skilled persons but would also provide employment opportunities to them.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak has said that PTI-led coalition government is leaving no stone unturned to provide better communication facilities to the people. He said that roads and latest communication facilities could lead the nation towards socio-economic progress and prosperity.
He was chairing a meeting on Swat Express Way at the CM Secretariat, Peshawar. The meeting besides the concerned authorities was also attended by Speaker Provincial Assembly Asad Qaiser and Special Assistant to Chief Minister C&W Akbar Ayub. The chief minister was told on this occasion that a comprehensive survey has been conducted following his special instructions in this regard.
The 81km long Express Way will cost Rs28.30 billion while its completion will save over two hours journey between Motorway Col Sher Interchange and Chakdara. Swat Express Way will pass through open and scenic areas of four districts Nowshera, Swabi, Mardan and Malakand. It will be completed under public private partnership (PPP) in three years while land for service road on both sides of Express Way will also be allocated.
Pervez Khattak directed for starting practical work on the project as soon as possible. He sanctioned release of Rs2.30 billion for the purpose. However, he made it clear that floating of tenders for the Express Way and services of private sector must be hired on transparent basis. He expressed satisfaction that Asian Development Bank, Korea, Japan and other foreign donor agencies have expressed interest in execution of the project under PPP and hoped that the project will be completed on international standards to increase its importance.
He said that this express way will facilitate the people travelling to big cities of Malakand Division, including Swat, Dir and Chitral as well as it would greatly contribute in promotion of tourism in the area because all the natural beauty and scenic places of these mountainous areas would become more accessible for the tourists. Similarly, he said that transportation of agricultural and industrial produce will also become comfortable through this expressway and hence would boost the agriculture and industrial sectors.
He said that provincial govt was seriously considering establishment of a new industrial estate in Malakand and suitable place for this purpose was being searched. He said that Swat Express Way would play key role in promotion of industries in the region as well.