RDA returns Rs1.145 billion to Punjab as mega projects shelved

RAWALPINDI: Funds to the tune of Rs1.145 billion released for three mega projects – Kutchery Chowk Remodeling Project, Leh Expressway, and Ring Road – in the garrison city have been returned to the provincial exchequer after the development authority failed to start the projects.

A senior official of the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) told that the provincial government released Rs1 billion for Kutchery Chowk last year, Rs50 million for the land acquisition for Leh Expressway and flood channel project, Rs50 million for a feasibility study concerning Leh Expressway and a flood channel, and Rs42 million for the Ring Road.

The RDA failed to start the projects and the funds were still in the accounts of the civic body, but the caretaker government asked the development authority to return the money sanctioned for these projects.

“The fate of these projects would be decided by the new government after the Punjab Assembly elections,” the official said, adding that the funds will be released after the changes in government.

He said that the provincial government has imposed a ban on new development projects across the province and clarified that such a ban would not impact the ongoing projects.

On the other hand, a senior official of the provincial government said that the caretaker provincial government had no mandate to start any development project or allocate money for new projects. He said that the caretaker government was established to look after the daily affairs of the province till the new elections.

He said that the schedule for by-election in NA-61 and NA-62 has been announced and polling date was fixed for March 19. After the announcement of the schedule, no development work could be started in the district.

A senior official of RDA told that the civic body has written a letter to the finance department seeking the release of the funds for these “ongoing projects”. He added that the RDA was all set to start these three projects. He, however, said that the Punjab finance department has not responded to the letter so far.

According to the official, the Kutchery Chowk project was ready to kick start and the contract in this connection was already been awarded to Frontier Works Organisation.

About Rawalpindi Ring Road, the RDA official was of the view that there was a minor hiccup in the project as Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has asked for the appointment of a foreign consultant to choose one of the two alignments for the project.

When contacted, RDA Director General Saif Anwar Jappa said that the provincial caretaker withdrew the funds for the new development projects across the province and so funds had to be returned.

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