ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal on Tuesday expressed optimism that all proposed nine industrial zones under China Pakistan Economic Corridor would be completed in a period of two to three years with assistance of provincial government.
Addressing a Senate session, the federal minister informed that provincial governments have expedited implementation of these zones being introduced with projects in energy and transport infrastructure sector, and planned to be set up under industrial cooperation between China and Pakistan.
“To take advantage of Pakistan’s natural resources, economic zones will be established under CPEC, one each in all the four provinces, FATA, Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, and two by the Federal Government in Islamabad Capital Territory and Port Qasim at Karachi,” he said.
The nine special economic zones were approved by the sixth Joint Cooperation Committee held last year, who also directed the joint work group on industry to ensure its speedy implementation. The minister said under this bilateral cooperation, industrial clusters would be set up from Gwadar to Chitral to use natural resources.
Investments in energy sector
He said that government had executed plan to utilise untapped coal reserves in Thar which has the capacity to produce power for 400 years. Also, a modern marble city would be set up in Mohmand agency with the help of technology in marble mining sector.
Ahsan Iqbal said energy crisis in the country will end soon, and hoped that availability of uninterrupted power supply would lead to a new of era of development in industry, agriculture and services sectors.
“Government has made huge investment of the history in the energy sector to overcome shortage of electricity in the country and 10,000 megawatt of electricity will be added to the national grid from May 2017 to 2018.″
He added that such investment had not been seen in energy generation and distribution sector for the last fifteen years and only 16000 megawatt electricity production was made possible during 66 years.
Rail-based mass transit schemes
Answering a question, he informed that rail-based mass transit systems are being established in all four provinces under CPEC. He said Lahore Orange Line Metro Mass Transit Project, Greater Peshawar Region Mass Transit System, Karachi Circular Railway, and Quetta Mass Transit System are part of CPEC.
“Provincial governments are committed to ensure speedy implantation of these projects in provincial capitals, approved during sixth JCC,” he remarked.
Quetta water supply scheme
He further informed Quetta Water Supply Scheme will also be completed under CPEC. However, he reminded that around Rs. 10 billion were provided by federal government to resolve the drinking water problem in Quetta which have been misappropriated.
“Today, there is no sign of investing this money. Such wastage of resources surely lead to misgiving among local population,” he stated.
The minister informed the government will remove bottlenecks and speed up project implementation to ensure the timely completion of projects.
He said that transparency and timely implementation rests with the sponsoring ministry, and any irregularity or concerns should be communicated to the concerned quarters.
He said the Planning Commission has ensured proper allocation of funds and better management of development projects to avoid delays.
“Development projects were delayed for more than 10 years due such practices in past,” he said.