ISLAMABAD - JAVAID-UR-RAHMAN - The fast increasing cost of country's vital communication projects, probably running into billions of rupees, needs appropriate budgetary allocation to increase the pace of the work on these projects mainly as the extraordinary delay in the projects costs has double in some of the cases. Almost like previous years, the expected meager amount for extraordinary delayed projects is not playing any role to increase the pace of work as second half of the fiscal year is also approaching to end.

"The meager amount is not only the cause for delay but uneven release of funds is also one of the major contributory factors," sources in the Communication Ministry told TheNation on Thursday.

The main delayed projects whose cost escalated more than double include Karakorum Highway (KKH), Faisalabd-Multan Motorway (M-4), Islamabad-Murree Expressway (IME), Lowari Tunnel, Northern Bypass, and some projects of most deprived province of Balochsitan.

The Lowari Tunnel project, that will link Pakistan with Central Asian states, was started with the tender of Rs2 billion. Now the project is estimated to be completed at a cost of Rs 18 billion, so it requires Rs 2 billion per annum for consecutive four years or accumulated funds for completion. The decades old project might not complete in next five years due to certain reasons. "I have tried a lot to complete this project as earlier as possible but the paucity of funds and some other reasons are main hitches in this matter," said Communication Minister Dr. Arbab Alamgir while talking to this scribe. He, however, rushed to remark that now pledges have been made for its smooth funding.

The Islamabad-Murree Expressway (IME) is most chronic project which won the tender with the cost of Rs 3 billion in 1997-99 era, and due to extraordinary delay the project cost reached Rs 12 billion, causing heavy loss to the national exchequer. The situation of other important project Gwadar-Turbat-Hoshab is not different from other delayed projects in queue as its cost increased considerably causing heavy loss to national kitty, said the sources.

It would not be out of place to mention here that Balochistan is the main victim of extraordinary delay of various projects as in previous years due to non-availability of funds these projects were extraordinary delayed.

"Improper budgetary allocations caused delay in projects and now pledges have been made to complete these projects in time," said Minister for Communication Arbab Alamgir.

It is relevant to mention here that Rs 44.63 billion under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for the National Highways Authority (NHA) were allocated in 2010-11 and funds even not received till the third quarter year and same situation was repeated in 2011-12.

The sources said that the ministry is not receiving smooth funding for 2012-13 as second quarter is about to end. "The situation may remain same in coming months because of previous record," they added.