LAHORE - Due to insufficient funds, mega project of constructing 16 kilometer long Lahore Elevated Expressway costing Rs 50 billion has been axed from the next financial year 2009-10. The long expressway had to start from Kot Lakhpat to the end of Niazi Chowk via Kalma Chowk, Qurtaba Chowk, Chauburji and Data Darbar. The 4-lane overhead expressway had also carried one lane reserved for emergencies. Well-placed sourced revealed that the Punjab government had approved the summary of works and communication department to dump the project with reasons that the project required heavy funding that would not be available on account of financial constraints. The sources informed the Lahore Elevated Expressway was planned to improve the vehicular movement and ease the traffic burden on north-south axes of the City in 2008 under the directions of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. NESPAK was entrusted the task to prepare feasibility report and outline design of the project within three to four months. Around Rs 257 million had been earmarked in this regard, the sources disclosed. The sources further said that initial cost for the project was set at Rs 30 billion. But works and communication department informed the Punjab government that due to fast raise in rates of construction materials the project cost had mounted to Rs 50 billion. The W&C department also apprised the government if Rs 50 billion had to be allocated for the expressway, other on-going road infrastructure development projects especially Ring Road that were being completed with heavy funding would be disturbed. The department also said that instead of general public, Lahore Elevated Expressway would benefit only the car users. Taking cognizance of the situation, the Punjab government decided to drop it instead of venturing out to launch the project. This project was similar to that of Lahore Mass Transit System and the entire length of the road was to be run on raised pillars like expressways built in many modern cities of the world. Experts believed the Punjab governments plan to construct an elevated expressway from Kainchi Stop to Niazi Interchange would render Lahore Rapid Mass Transit (LRMT) project obsolete. A Traffic Engineering and Planning Agency (TEPA) official associated with the LRMT project said the project was better as it benefited commuters more than car owners, adding that the elevated expressway was designed to facilitate private vehicle owners only. However, he admitted that as far as cost effectiveness was concerned, the expressway was far cheaper and could be completed much faster than the LRMT project which would take at least another five years. The sources said as the government had been facing financial constraints some other road development projects that were to be taken up in next fiscal year had been dropped. They said excluding Ring Road, around Rs 60 to 70 billion were required annually to complete the projects regarding road infrastructure development in Punjab. However, only 30 to 35 per cent funds were being provided that was major cause among others leading to delay the on-going projects. With the delay, every year cost of the project had to be revised in accordance with the present rates of construction and other materials due to which overall budget allocated for the completion of the project increases. It may be recalled that the Punjab government had allocated Rs 14.5 billion for the road sector development in 2008-09. It also issued Rs 20 billion supplementary grant subsequently. However, the government could not complete around 250 projects started in the past. In current year, only 123 roads could be constructed. According to data, total length of roads network in Punjab is 38,000 kilometer that is increasing with 13 per cent ratio annually. At present, companies of China, Turkey and Malaysia are involved in the road sector projects.