Changes in CPEC’s Ring Road project purely technical: Minister

Gwadar Pro

Islamabad: Changes in road alignment in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)’s Rawalpindi-Islamabad Ring Road project are purely due to technical reasons, Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan has said.

Speaking at a news conference, he clarified that there was no political involvement in finalizing the alignment of Ring Road project.

“If there is any change in the road alignment, it is purely due to technical reasons that can be explained by relevant experts,” he maintained.

Khan said an alignment of the Ring Road from Rawat to Thalian Interchange connecting it with the motorway, was discussed in 2017, but it was not approved. “Onward it was directionless,” he added.

The minister insisted that the inquiry report about the project should be revisited as some members of the investigation committee had attached their separate dissenting notes with it.

He regretted that although there was no mention of his or any of his family member’s name in the inquiry report, some elements were attempting to involve him in the scandal.

“Such elements to prove his involvement with documentary evidence or otherwise get ready to face legal action. There were some reservations of the National Highway Authority (NHA) that it would not be able to control the traffic on Ring Road, which was calculated at 33,000 vehicles per day at that time,”he added.

Moreover, he said, the existing motorways and N5 (Grand Trunk Road) had no capacity for bearing such an axle-load of heavy vehicles.

Khan said it was the hallmark of the present government that it took the initiative and he, himself, got a fresh briefing on the project and the management decided to provide another entry point to Islamabad in the Sanjgani area, keeping in view all technicalities.

“It is aimed at lowering the burden on Srinagar Highway, which is the only available road for all the traffic coming from motorway and N5 to enter the Federal Capital,” he added.

He claimed that he and his family members had neither acquired nor sold any piece of land on both sides of the proposed route of the Ring Road. “We neither had any land in the past nor acquired any land currently,” he added.

The minister also clarified that he or any of his family members had no association with any housing society. He said his family did politics for the last 50 years, considering it a public service and never took any financial gain.

To a question, Khan said it was a project of national importance like Tarbela and Mangla dams, and must be executed and completed at every cost, no matter what alignment was taken as final.

He said all major cities had bypasses or ring roads, but unfortunately the twin cities’ project faced inordinate delays for unknown reasons, depriving the residents of Rawalpindi and Islamabad of the facility.