ISLAMABAD - The funds allocated for expansion and rehabilitation of Kashmir Highway may lapse as the Capital Development Authority (CDA) is taking extra long time in pre-qualifying contractors for the project. The Authority had fixed December 31, 2009 as the last date for submission of documents for pre-qualification and 42 construction firms submitted their papers. However, the civic agency has so far not been able to go through the documents and finalise list of contractors eligible for taking part in bids for the project. The Authority had sought details from construction firms on a specimen paper so well organised that their pre-qualification was a matter of minutes. But the unexpected long time taken in the process has raised suspicions. Though CDAs Member (Engineering) Abdul Jabbar Melano rejected it categorically, however, well-informed sources claim that the Authority faced difficulties in taking decision in the matter due to the enormous external pressure for award of the multi-billion highway project to certain blue-eyed contractors. The sources even point fingers at the highest figures in countrys political corridors. Federal Government had allocated Rs300m for the project in Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2009-10 while the Authority had allocated another Rs 300 million from its own resources in its budget for the same year. However, the funds are going to lapse due to the enormous delay in finalising the pre-qualification of contractors. It is worth mentioning that the tenders for the project were also cancelled in 2009 due to the alleged manipulation by certain firms. Abdul Jabbar Melano, however, said that there was no need of expediting the pre-qualification process, as he said, the Authority had no funds for the execution of the project in ongoing fiscal year. There is no question of funds lapsing, for the already allocated amounts are not even sufficient to be paid as mobilisation advance to the prospective contractors, he explained. He, however, assured that the pre-qualification process would be completed next week, adding that CDA was striving to award the contract by end of March or in first week of April. In first phase, two separate contracts would be given for widening and rehabilitation of the 8.5 kilometres stretch of the Highway from Peshawar Mor to Golra Mor. Cost for the first phase of the project has been estimated at Rs3,590m. However, bids are expected to be higher by 30-35 percent as the CDA estimates are based on 2008 rates. In second phase, the expansion and rehabilitation work of the Highway from Golra Mor to GT Road would be carried out while the segment between Peshawar Mor and Zero Point would be widened along with the projects of Zero Point and Peshawar Mor interchanges, it has been learnt.