Islamabad -  A parliamentary committee was informed on Friday that so far no land has been acquired for the western route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

“There is no land on the ground for the western route of the CPEC and we are being told that work on the route is in full progress,” said chairman Senate Standing Committee on Communications, Senator Muhammad Daud Khan Achakzai. “You (government) are misguiding the committee about the western route and telling us lies,” Achakzai said while chairing a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Communications. The meeting was attended by Senator Sajjad Hussain Turi, Mir Muhammad Yousaf Badini, Dr. Ashok Kumar, Agha Shahzaib Khan Durrani, Minister of State for Communications Abdul Hakeem and officials of the ministry.

The committee was briefed regarding the follow-up and implementation status on the recommendations made by the committee at its meeting held on December 26, 2017.

The National Highway Authority chairman briefed the committee about the budgetary allocation and its utilization by NHA in the last two quarters of the current financial year.

Senator Achakzai said that the Rs5 billion allocated for the acquisition of land for western route could not be utilized. The committee showed its displeasure over non-holding of the meeting of the prime minister special committee for the acquisition of the land.

The committee chairman observed that due to the non-utilization of developmental funds and delaying tactics the funds allocated for Balochistan were returning to the national exchequer. The funds allocated for section four in Balochistan had not been utilized for the past three years, Achakzai said

The officials of the ministry of communications and the NHA failed to satisfy the committee regarding the ongoing work on PSDP funded CPEC projects. The NHA officials agreed that so far land for the western route was not acquired.  The committee recommended that work should be started on CPEC western route on an immediate basis. 

The committee chairman also showed his surprise that none of the contract engineers, hired by the NHA, had engineering degrees. The NHA officials informed the committee that due to none-availability of engineering degree-holders, people from other discipline was hired as engineers.

However, the clarification was rejected by the chairman as a lame excuse and said, “I challenge you that 500 qualified engineers from Balochistan can be found on a single day notice.” 

The committee chairman said that two Malaysian citizens were hired as consultants for projects in Balochistan. One is getting Rs 2 million and the other Rs1.8 million salary and both were provided official accommodations in Quetta and at the same time both were also provided residences in Islamabad, he said. “Why these consultants are not sitting in their Quetta offices,” he questioned. The committee asked to provide complete information of the Malaysian nationals at the next committee meeting. The NHA officials said that the home department was not issuing NOCs to these foreigners.

Senator Yusuf Badini said that on one hand, the government was claiming that everything was under control and on the other hand, the officials were saying that they were facing the security situation. “Who we should trust? he questioned.

Senator Ashok Kumar raised the issue of Liyari Expressway and it was informed that it will be inaugurated on January 19.

On a question raised by Senator Turi regarding the developmental work in FATA, it was informed that to connect all the tribal agencies through the 850 kilometers road, a feasibility study was being carried out.

The State Minister for Communications told the committee that out of 72 ongoing projects, 13 were being funded from the PSDP.