ISLAMABAD - The Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) on Saturday approved the Karachi-Lahore Motorway (230 KMs length) and construction of roads and acquisition of land linking the New Islamabad International Airport.

The ECNEC, which met under the chair of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, has considered and approved construction of Abdul Hakeem - Lahore section of the Karachi-Lahore Motorway (230 KMs length). The project would cost Rs. 150,665.025 million and would cover cities/towns of Abdul Hakeem, Pir Mahal, Samundri, Gojra, Tandilianwala, Jaranwala, Bucheki, Nankana Sahib, Sheikhupura and Lahore. The project aims at construction of 230 KM long 6 lane access controlled section of Karachi-Lahore motorway from Abdul Hakeem to Lahore) including necessary road side facilities.

The total cost of Karachi-Lahore Motorway is about Rs700 billion. The National Highway Authority (NHA) has planned to build and complete the Karachi-to-Lahore motorway in three-and-a-half years.

The ECNEC accorded approval for land acquisition and construction of road network projects for the New Islamabad International Airport. While the land acquisition and other related tasks would cost a total of Rs. 5455.00 million, the construction of road networks to be undertaken in four phases would cost Rs. 11,295 million.

The federal government had already allocated an amount of Rs700 million in the current fiscal year’s Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for the construction of road networks. The cost of land acquisition for New Islamabad International Airport has increased to Rs5.5 billion, which was initially estimated at a cost of only Rs932.4 million in 2012 by the Pakistan Peoples Party government. The New Islamabad International Airport is already facing delays and its cost is expected to cross Rs80 billion against the initial estimate of Rs37 billion.

While according the approval for road network project, the Chair directed formation of a committee comprising senior officials from Ministries of Finance, Communication and Planning & Development to decide about the mode of financing for Phase-III which involves construction of a part of main link road to the airport.

The ECNEC also accorded approval in principle for Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) Projects for IESCO and LESCO. Both projects also include establishment of New Customer Information & Billing Systems. The project in respect of IESCO would cost Rs.18,607 million while for LESCO the cost would be Rs. 30,597 million. While presenting the details of the projects, Secretary, Water & Power informed that these projects would enhance load control and load management in the two Discos. AMI project is designed as a least cost solution to reduce losses and to efficiently balance power supply. Once the system is in place it would considerably reduce load shedding, as it would enable alternative ways of managing peak load. AMI system would have smart meters, in-house display units and shall provide Headend System (HES) software for effective liaison between meter and the management information system. A constant watch on the demand and supply position would be maintained through the AMI to guard against any breakdown.

After detailed discussion, ECNEC also approved Sindh Roads Improvement project at a cost of Rs.22,750 million. The project envisages reconditioning / reconstruction, improvement, widening and strengthening of varying lengths of 329 KM existing roads in Kashmore, Kandhkot, Larkana, Sanghar, Tando Adam, Mirpur Khas, Tando Mohammad Khan and Badin areas. These roads have been damaged by floods and heavy rain fall and need urgent revamping.

The Committee also approved a proposal of Ministry of Water & Power related to land acquisition of Dasu Hydropower Project. The project is being implemented with financial support of the World Bank.