The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council approved on Monday 15 development projects with a total estimated cost of Rs333.5 billion.
The committee also approved 70 per cent increase in cost of land for Diamer-Bhasha dam.
A meeting presided over by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar was informed that the original cost of the Diamer-Bhasha dam project was put at Rs60bn in 2008, but it was rejected by the people to be affected by it. Subsequent protests claimed two lives and Wapda offices and other facilities were attacked and set on fire. Then the prime minister constituted a committee comprising ministers for Kashmir affairs & Gilgit-Baltistan, water and power, labour and manpower and inter-provincial coordination and the deputy chairman of the planning commission to resolve the issue. After negotiations with the people, the committee revised the cost of raising the land and assets to Rs50bn from Rs33.5bn, providing additional facilities like one kanal, instead of five marla, plots to 4,228 households. The cost of model villages was also increased to Rs8.7bn from Rs3.3bn. The project envisages acquisition of 37,419 acres of land and resettlement of affected people.
The project’s cost also went up on account of additional safeguard measures demanded by international lenders and an increase in the length of Karakoram Highway. Ecnec increased the land acquisition and resettlement cost by 69 per cent to Rs101.372bn from Rs60bn earmarked in 2008. The meeting approved the establishment of National Endowment Scholarships for Talent at a cost of Rs10bn to be met from the PSDPs (2014-18) in line with the Vision 2025. The project will meet the needs of youths and promote vertical social mobility through scholarships. The committee approved Rs21.697bn for laying 500 KV double-circuit transmission lines for dispersal of electricity from Neelum-Jhelum (969MW), Karot (720MW) and Azad Pattan (650MW) hydropower projects in Azad Kashmir. It approved Rs5.974bn, including Rs2.729bn foreign exchange component, for Phase 2 of Machine Readable Passport and Machine Readable Visa project which envisages opening of 65 regional passport offices in the country and installation of the MRP system at 83 missions abroad.
Ecnec approved Rs12.260bn, including foreign exchange component of Rs11.366bn, for Land Record Management & Information System (Phase-I) of the Punjab government. The project is funded by the provincial government from its own resources and loans from the World Bank. The committee cleared a proposal of the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan for a water supply and sewerage scheme for the Mirpur town and hamlets in the periphery of Mangla Dam at a cost of Rs6.99bn. The project will provide 36.36 million gallons of potable water at 57.5 gallons per head per day till 2030. A proposal of the Ministry of Housing and Works was approved for construction of a new secretariat block at a cost of Rs4.845bn at the Constitution Avenue in Islamabad. The committee approved Rs17.464bn, including foreign exchange component of Rs12.068bn, for replacement of old and obsolete signal gear from Loldhran-Multan-Khenewal-Shahdara Bagh Main Line Section of Pakistan Railways (revised plan).