RAWALPINDI, April 1: The Marrir Chowk Underpass project has failed to get a go-ahead from the Punjab government as Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) could not obtain the mandatory no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Pakistan Railways in this regard.
Sources told Dawn on Sunday that RDA presented PC-I of the Rs452 million project to the Punjab Development Working Party (PDWP) in Lahore on Saturday. However, according to the sources, the PDWP linked approval of the project with the RDA getting NOC from the railways.The railways overhead bridge at Marrir Chowk lies on the busiest track as all rail traffic to Lahore and Karachi passes through it.
Under the Marrir Chowk Tunnel Project, RDA would construct two underpasses having 30-foot wide road and six-foot wide
walkways on both sides of the road.
An RDA official requesting not to be named expressed the fear that the project would be delayed till the next fiscal year if the civic body could not get the NOC.
Talking to Dawn, MNA Malik Shakeel Awan, however, expressed the hope that work on the project would start soon.
He said elected representatives from the city had convinced the Punjab chief minister to allocate funds for the project aimed at easing traffic on Benazir Bhutto Road. After its completion, motorists coming from Saddar via Kashmir Road and from district courts via Rashid Minhas Road would go through the roundabout with an ease.
“PDWP conditionally approved the project and asked the RDA to clearly mention the amount Pakistan Railways demanded for granting the NOC,” said Chaudhry Naseer Ahmed, the RDA director general, while talking to Dawn.
However, he claimed that RDA had got the NOC but it did not mention the amount of money demanded by the railway authorities as a fee.
He said PDWP had also asked RDA to reduce the time frame for completion of the project from one year to six months. The PDWP officials were of the view that if Chandni Chowk Flyover could be completed in three months the underpasses should also be ready in a short span of time.
When contacted, Pakistan Railways Divisional Superintendent Syed Munawar Shah denied the RDA chief’s claim and said they had not given NOC to the civic body or the Punjab government in this regard. “The certificate will be given after receiving the project details from the provincial government and these details will be vetted by the railway engineers,” he said.
He said RDA and the local MNA had contacted the railway authorities last month seeking issuance of the NOC. However, before getting the project details it would be impossible for the railways to grant the certificate, he added.
“We would have to make a plan for diversion of rail traffic and also required fee for design vetting, diversion of trains and deployment of staff to supervise the project,” he explained.
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