ISLAMABAD: The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) has approved the Pak-China Optical Fiber Cable (OFC) Project-Phase II at a cost of Rs37.9 billion.
The ECNEC meeting was held under the chairmanship of Finance and Revenue Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Thursday.
The committee was informed that the Pak-China OFC project would provide alternate path for international connectivity through the northern border of Pakistan with China, besides transforming Pakistan as a digital gateway of regional connectivity.
Meanwhile, the committee approved a summary regarding the construction of Gwadar-Ratodero Road Project (M-8), sponsored by the Ministry of Communication and executed by National Highway Authority, at a rationalised cost of Rs38 billion. The approval was accorded keeping in view the strategic importance of the route, as it would facilitate CPEC connectivity through improved road linkages.
Likewise, ECNEC gave a go-ahead to a summary regarding ‘provision of Advanced Skills Development through International Scholarship Phase-1 for Master and PHD programmes’, to be executed by the Higher Education Commission (HEC). The project, approved at a rationalised cost of Rs13.361 billion, is part of the Prime Minister Knowledge Economy Task Force Initiative.
A summary titled ‘Greater Karachi Water Supply Scheme (K-IV) 260 MGD (phase-1)’ was also approved by the ECNEC. The project, to be completed in four years, would provide additional 260 MGD water to Karachi at a cost of Rs25 billion.
Similarly, the committee okayed a project titled ‘Solid Waste Emergency and Efficiency Project (SWEEP)’, moved by the Sindh’s Local Government, Housing and Town Planning Department, at a total cost of Rs16.8 billion, including IBRD-World Bank loan of Rs16 billion. The project is designed to mitigate the risk of widespread flooding caused by inadequate solid and liquid waste management during monsoon season and to improve the solid waste management infrastructure and service delivery with a view to transform Karachi into an eco-friendly city in the long run.
ECNEC also approved the ‘Khyber Pakhtunkwa Human Capital Investment Project (Education Component)’ at a cost of Rs18.9 billion. The project, financed by the World Bank/IDA, is envisioned to upgrade basic education infrastructure in the districts of Peshawar, Haripur, Noshera and Swabi of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.
Furthermore, a project for ‘Construction of 100 Dams in Balochistan- Package IV (23 Dams)’ was approved by ECNEC at a cost of Rs13.5 billion. Balochistan’s Irrigation Department would execute the project which would be completed in three years. Realizing the water scarcity in Balochistan, the project is designed to harness flood flows for direct irrigation, groundwater recharge and agricultural development through construction of small dams throughout the province.
ECNEC also approved Covid-19 response and other natural calamities control programmes at a cost of Rs70 billion (as federal share). The project includes National Health Upgradation Programme, National Programme for Water and Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Covid-19 interventions for less developed areas etc.
Lastly, the forum approved a project for ‘Dualization and Improvement of Old Bannu Road’ at Rs17 billion from federal PSDP (2020-21). The project envisages dualization of existing two-lane old Bannu road measuring 83km in length from Gaandi Chowk to Sarai Naurang (8km) and Domail to Krapa on N-55 (75km) to 4 lanes with 7.3m wide carriageway on either side.