2011 to be Zulfikarabad Year: President Zardari

KARACHI: President Asif Ali Zardari Tuesday directed that the conceptual master planning along with the identification of the first phase of the new mega city should be completed within this year so that 2011 is rightly called as the “Year of Zulfikarabad”.The President also directed the relevant agencies of the government to expedite a meeting of the Pak-China Joint Energy Working Group (JEWG) to formally take up with Chinese government the proposal for the financing of another mega project in the province, the Thar Coal Project, on soft terms by the Chinese financial institutions.Briefing newsmen Spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said that the decisions were taken at two separate meetings presided over by the President at Bilawal House aimed at reviewing progress on Thar coal infrastructure development and Zulfikarabad projects in Sindh.The meetings on mega projects in the province were attended besides  by  Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, the provincial ministers and relevant federal and provincial government officials.Farhatullah Babar said the meeting on Thar Coal project was informed that bankable feasibility of the project has been completed and the project is ready for execution as soon as the financial close was achieved and critical infrastructure completed.The infrastructure projects associated with Thar coal include water supply for the coal fields, erection of power transmission lines to distribute power, disposal of effluent from Thar coal, provision of road and rail link to the project site and the construction of an airport at Islamkot, he said.The President recalled that during  last December’s  visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to Pakistan a Pak-China Joint Energy Working Group (JEWG) had been formed. He said the forum of JEWG should be used to secure Chinese financing for the project through Chinese financial institutions and directed the relevant agencies to expedite convening a meeting of this body for taking the project forward.The President said in view of liquidity crunch it was imperative that the infrastructural projects associated with Thar coal were executed on the basis of public- private partnership for which the state land and other resources could be used as public sector’s equity.

The briefing was informed that  the Sindh government has submitted proposal of its flagship joint venture project with Engro for project financing under JEWG.About Zulfikarababd city project, Farhatullah Babar quoted the President as saying that the conceptual master planning and identification of first phase of the project be completed this year so that 2011 is genuinely remembered as the Year of Zulfikarabad.He said that the meeting on the new city project briefed the President on the progress made since the President last chaired its meeting in the Presidency in Islamabad in January last. The briefing was given by the Advisor to CM Sindh  Fazl-ur-Rehman.The meeting was informed that expressions of interest had been launched in the national and international media for short listing of consultants for the conceptual planning of the new mega city. Only the short listed consultants would be provided with “Requests for Proposals (RFP)” for submission of technical and financial bids.The President directed that trade missions and embassies of South East Asian, European and Middle Eastern countries be also approached for international marketing and attracting investment. Expressions of Interest should also be launched on the web sites of international dailies, the President further directed.

The President reiterated hiscall for following best international practices to be followed for the implementation of the project.The President also directed that foolproof system be devised to ensure that there were no bogus entries in the record of the land earmarked for Zulfikarbad.Farhatullah Babar said that the President has already issued directions that the bids for master plan of the city should emphasise adoption of the most modern concepts of town planning. Provisions for industrial, electronic and science parks to boost employment, skills of people and provide economic opportunities should be prominent feature of the new city, the President said.The President emphasised upon the need for exploitation of resources of the private sector to maximum possible extent and their active involvement in the project. He said that the project should manifest the success of public-private partnership and should serve as a role model – APP