The Senate Standing Committee on Communication was held here at Parliament House on Tuesday with Senator Prince Omar Ahmadzai in the Chair. Senators Kamil Ali Agha, Danesh Kumar, Abida Muhammad Azeem, Shammim Afridi, Muhammad Akram, and Umer Farooq, attended the meeting. The Secretary Ministry of Communication, IG NH&MP, DIG NH&MP (west zone), Quetta and other officials from the Ministry of communication and NH&MP were also in attendance.
At the outset, the committee received a comprehensive briefing on the rules and procedures of Right of Way (ROW) under the National Highway Authority Act, 1991 and procedures and policies in this regard. “The Land acquired for construction of a National Highway or any other road assigned to the Authority” is defined as the Right of Way, GM ROW underlined. He stated that the Right of Way comprises the road, the shoulder and the “Kacha route” beside the shoulder of the road while 220ft on either side from the centre of the road is the building line that lies beyond the ROW. After debating the subject, the committee called for a detailed briefing on all the matters related to ROW. Senator Kamil Ali Agha, with raised eyebrows, recalled encroachment along the GT road and called for immediate action against it. He told the Authority to take notice of the matter and revert to the committee afterwards.
The Chairman Committee hinted at scores of illegal installations of Gas stations on the N-25 highway project approaching Karachi. The Chairman while calling for ensuring safety measures along the highway, underscored that these gas stations sometimes are becoming the cause of certain damages and quoted the examples of Commissioner Turbat and Parliamentarian Mr Zehri. He said that yanking them out is not the way forward but varied safety and security measures need to be taken. After discussing the issue the Chairman committee decided to call Chief Secretary Balochistan along with the concerned Deputy Commissioner in the next meeting.
The officials from NH&MP also briefed the committee on Criteria/policy for seniority and promotion of officers in NHA; indicating cases pending along with the reasons for a delay in each case. The officials informed that different selection committees are in place and are categorised for deciding the promotion of officers and other staff members. Later, the Chairman called for providing a brief list of those officers fulfilling the criteria and have not been promoted yet.
A comprehensive briefing on Chaman to Karachi (N-25) highway project was given by the officials from NH&MP. The Chairman committee said that the project had been inaugurated six times but still has not been completed. To the question, asked by the Chairman Committee the officials said that Rs. 6 billion have been allocated for the project given the fact that the estimated cost of the project stands at Rs. 222 billion. The committee feared that due to a hike in construction-related materials the estimated cost may surpass the current amount. As committed by the Prime Minister, will this project be completed in 1.5 yrs?, asked Senator Danesh Kumar. The Chairman NHA while expressing his commitment remarked that his team will try its best to accomplish the said project in due time, adding that the contractors are on the ground and have committed the same.
While sharing details of the N-25 project, the officials informed the committee that the project has 5 packages and will be completed in phases. The total length is 790km having sections (i)(Karachi-Uthal-Kararo and wadh-khuzdar ) 273km, (ii)Khuzdar-Kuchlak (330km) for which clearance is needed having alignment issue, and (iii)Kararo-Wadh and Kuchlak-Chaman 187km amounting a total cost of Rs. 222.282 billion.
Given the status of the project, it was told that the cost of PC-1 for section (i) is Rs.73.029 billion and submitted for approval with ECNEC, PC-1 cost of section (ii) is Rs. 81.582 billion for which PC-1 is approved by ECNEC and PC-1 cost of Section (iii) is Rs.67.671 billion and submitted to Planning Commission for approval of ECNEC. At the end of the briefing, the committee showed its intent to call High officials from the Finance Ministry, Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) and Chief Secretary Balochistan to discuss the project in more detail and ensure its timely completion.
The briefing on the construction of the Sukkur-Hyderabad Motorway was recessed due to the non-presence of the mover.