SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)
Nearly Rs 3 billion are being spent on improving a 15-kilometer-long patch of a road leading to UAE Palace in Rahimyar Khan, ostensibly to facilitate UAE royals who visit the area frequently for hunting special birds, Pakistan Today has learnt.
The scheme, Widening or Improvement of Palace Road from Pull Dari Sangi to UAE Palace, length 15.5 kilometers in Rahimyar Khan, has been approved by the Planning and Development (P&D) Department at a cost of Rs 2.7 billion.
The cost is considerably higher than the cost of similar projects approved by P&D Department, including widening of 45-kilometer-long road from Pirkot Khaliana to Chela to Rajana to Khan Da Kot to Guniana in Jhang at a cost of Rs 555million and improvement of 20-kilometer-long road from Pir Mahal Darkhana Road to Shorkot Cantonment Toba Road via Chak No.321-Gb, 323-GB, 321-GB, 325-GB, 326-GB at a cost of Rs 307million.
P&D ONLY ‘APPROVED’ SCHEME:
When contacted, P&D Chairman Irfan Elahi said that the scheme was part of the Annual Development Plan and P&D Department had only “approved” it.
“The road’s high cost might be due to the fact that it is a double road and also because its construction standards might be very high,” he said.
To a question, he said that he would have to look at the PC-1 of the scheme before he could explain the scheme’s benefits.
Punjab government’s spokesperson Zaeem Qadri was not available for comments.
The UAE Palace is the annual holiday residence of UAE royals when they visit South Punjab to hunt a rare bird – Houbara Bustard.
The allocation of such a huge sum for improving a small patch leading to the palace has put a question mark on the tall claims of many politicians to develop the southern Punjab region for the people’s welfare.
Former prime minister and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) stalwart Yousaf Raza Gillani had hinted at the formation of South Punjab province before the 2013 Elections, whereas Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has also been vocal about his government’s claims to have developed the southern Punjab region with various development schemes.