ISLAMABAD              -        After approval of the historic railway project for up-gradation of main line (ML-1) from Karachi to Peshawar by the Central Development Working Party (CDWP), the government is expecting that groundbreaking of the project would be held by February-March 2021.

According to budgetary documents, the concessional financing agreement for landmark ML-1 project (estimated cost $7.2 billion) is expected to be finalised in 2020, and subsequently, arrangement will be made for physical work to start. The strategic project of ML-1 has been planned in the second phase of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The implementation period of the project is 9 years and will be executed in three phases. The project which aims at upgrading and dualising the rail track from Peshawar to Karachi (1872 km) has a potential to create 174,000 direct jobs.

So far remarkable progress has been achieved on ML-1 project as. Financing committee from both countries has been notified and several meetings held to finalise the concessional financial modalities for the project.

Meanwhile the government has allocated Rs6 billion for the project under its Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2020-21.

An official in the Planning Minister told this scribe that the allocation for the project would be increased in years to come as the physical work on the project would gain momentum.

He said that 90 per cent of total cost of the project would be funded by China.  In total the government has allocated Rs77 billion for various development projects under CPEC for the year 2020-21.