Gilgit: Assuring that development and prosperity of Gilgit-Baltistan is priority of his government, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Tuesday announced to construct Gilgit-Skardu Expressway at a cost of fifty billion rupees.

 He was addressing the cheque distribution ceremony for earthquake affectees in Gilgit today.He said work on Gilgit-Skardu express way would start soon. He said Attabad tunnel has been completed costing Rs 27 billion while Lowari tunnel project will be completed next year. He said the Khunjrab-Sust-Gilgit road would go up to Havelian.

He said that the express way will be connected with China-Pakistan Economic Corridor for generation of economic activities in the area. Nawaz Sharif said an airport in Gilgit would be constructed for jet service.

 Nawaz said that Raikot and Havelian would be connected with a smooth road. Lowari project, a tunnel road that connects Dir to Chitral Valley, would get completed in 2016.

 He said the economic zone in Gilgit-Baltistan will made the area more advanced than Karachi and Lahore and provide jobs to the locals.

 The PM said that the government is aware of the bundle of issues that people face and the GB government cannot handle them alone. Nawaz said that distances among hearts of the people are cut when roads are able to provide easy journeys.

 He wished the previous governments had taken the issues of people of Gilgit-Baltistan into account and taken necessary steps.

The Prime Minister said the federal government is spending billions of rupees in the areas for better communication facilities and other welfare oriented development projects. He said these steps would promote tourism in the area and bring a major change in the lives of the people.

Nawaz Sharif said efforts are being made to strengthen democracy in Gilgit-Baltistan and a committee has been formed to work out political reforms in the area. The Prime Minister said work on various power projects including Bhasha Dam is in progress to tackle energy crisis. He directed for early payment of compensation money to the earthquake affected people.He said work is also in hand for Bunji and Dasu dams and when all these projects were complete, the hydel power generation would increase by 15,000 MW.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif distributed cheques among the quake affected people of Ghizr and Diamir. He was briefed that 14 people had died of earthquake and the next of kin of each deceased has been given Rs 6 lac and one lac to each injured. Eighty nine houses were completely destroyed while 603 were partially damaged. Owners of totally destroyed houses would be given two lakh rupees each and of partially damaged one lakh rupees each. In addition the affected people have been provided food and other relief items.

 Earlier, in his address Governor GB Mir Ghazanfar Ali said development oriented projects will be given priority for the welfare of people. He said Gilgit-Baltistan offers vast opportunities for promotion of tourism and both the government and private sector should pay attention to the sector.

Speaking on the occasion, Gilgit Baltistan Chief Minister Hafizur Rehman said his government is determined to develop the area with focus on people's welfare.He thanked the Prime minister for his keen interest in the development of Gilgit-Baltistan. He said the vision of the Prime Minister for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is praise worthy which will bring far reaching development.