Non-release of funds hinders two mega projects

Rawalpindi

The Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA), which has a couple of mega projects in hand, is finding it hard to initiate work on them due to non-availability of required funds.

Credible sources told ‘The News’ here on Friday that the RDA has completed the feasibility report and planning of two big projects, including construction of two tunnels at Mareer Chowk and construction of an underpass at Shah Khalid Colony.

The RDA is ready to launch the two projects but there is shortage of funds worth Rs157 million. Elaborating details, sources said that the Punjab government, under Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) has to release required funds enabling the RDA to start work on these schemes. The RDA has demanded the provincial government to allocate an amount of Rs157 million so that it could start work on mega projects. However the government has decided to allocate RDA a sum of Rs97 million. Though the decision of allocating funds was taken long before, however, the amount has not yet been released to the RDA, sources said.
Sources said that RDA Director General Chaudhry Naseer Ahmed and Rawalpindi City Government District Coordination Officer Captain (r) Saqib Zafar have approached the concerned officials, asking them to release the approved funds immediately.

According to the official spokesman for the PSDP, the process of releasing funds to the RDA is under way and it would be completed soon.Similarly, RDA spokesman Deputy Director Umar Farooq, while confirming the report, said that work on the two mega schemes would kick off after Ramazan as soon as funds are released.

He said that the project of construction of two tunnels at Mareer Chowk, to ease the flow of traffic, was scheduled to be completed before the deadline of March 31, 2013. However the completion period could be extended as the process of funds release has been delayed. Still, the RDA would do its level best to complete work on two tunnels before the specified date of March 31. Initially, the RDA would do ‘earth work’ for shifting of railway tracks. It would take at least one month to complete this work. Then the Pakistan Railways would be asked to start work on shifting of railway tracks.

This would also take one month, said the RDA spokesman. This was also confirmed by Munawwar Shah, divisional superintendent of the Pakistan Railways, while commenting on the subject. The RDA has already released Rs76 million to the railways for shifting of railway tracks.

The construction of two tunnels at Mareer Chowk would start after shifting of railway tracks. The work on the project would be carried out at a fast pace and it would be completed on time, the RDA spokesman said.

According to him, the other mega scheme of underpass construction would also be launched after Ramazan immediately after release of funds. Due to frequent traffic jams in Shah Khalid Colony, PML-N stalwart Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan proposed to the Punjab chief minister for construction of an underpass over there. Approving the project, the Punjab chief minister allocated funds for it. However like the tunnel project, the railway tracks would be diverted before starting work on the underpass. The RDA would carry earthwork here also and the Pakistan Railways would do the remaining work of laying tracks.

The RDA spokesman, while expressing his reservations to comment further over the matter, said that there was a possibility that work on two projects could halt if elections were held this year. Moreover, to a question, he said the projects could suspend with the change in government. However it would cause loss to the RDA in terms of amount spent on the projects, he said.