PESHAWAR: A bench of the Peshawar High Court has sought comments from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority (CPEC) and three other government agencies in a petition asking the court to order the government to expedite the completion of the N-45 (Chakdara to Chitral Highway) as part of CPEC West Road.
The bench consisting of Chief Justice of the PHC Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Ijaz Anwar ordered that four of the respondents, including the CPEC Authority through its Chairman, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC), the National Highways Authority and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Highways Authority must submit their responses within three weeks.
The petition is filed by two residents of Dir Lower district named Rahim Shah Akhunkhail and Professor Wali Rahman. They asked the court that apart from the N-45, the court could also order the government to speed up the works on the 29.6 kilometer Dir highway from Chakdara to Rabat.
The next date for hearing the motion will be set at a later date.
The CPEC Authority and three other government bodies are the respondents to the petition
The respondents in the petition are: the CPEC authority through its chairman, the Federal Ministry of Planning and Development, the Federal Secretary for Economic Affairs, the ECNEC through its chairman, the NHA through through its Chairman, the KP Highway Authority through its Managing Director, the Chief Secretary of KP and the Provincial Finance Secretary. .
The Claimants’ lawyer, Malik Mohammad Ajmal Khan, said that the friendly country, the People’s Republic of China, has launched the Built and Road Initiative (BRI) around the world and one of its projects is commonly known as CPEC.
He said that according to official documents, N-45 was part of the CPEC. He said that according to available records, all projects under CPEC have been categorized as completed projects, projects under construction and pipeline projects. He added that the N-45 has been duly approved by ECNEC as a western route and a project under construction.
He asserted that the respondents, for reasons best known to them, delayed the project. He said another project was Dir Expressway, a 29.6 kilometer long road to be completed at a cost of Rs 38.8 billion. He added that his PC-I had already been completed and was mentioned as a pipeline project.
The lawyer said another project is that of Shandur-Chitral Road, an alternative route of Karakoram Highway. It would be 153 kilometers long and cost $16 billion. He said it was billed as a project under construction and its groundbreaking ceremony took place in April 2021.
The lawyer said there is also a proposal to extend the Dir expressway to China by stretching it about 214 kilometers at a cost of 339 billion rupees.
Mr. Ajmal said that the Chakdara to Timergara section of the N-45 called Section-1 would be about 38.85 kilometers and would include the widening and rehabilitation of the said road.
He claimed that the road from Chakdara to Timergara was under construction, but there was nothing in the file regarding the road from Timergara to Dir.
He argued that Section 19A of the Constitution guaranteed a citizen’s right to information and under said section the petitioners wanted to know the money spent so far from the public treasury on the N- 45 and the highway Dir.
He argued that the delay in the construction of said roads was an injustice to the inhabitants of the areas from which these roads would pass.
He claimed that the provincial government has also been interested in the construction of the 82 kilometer long Chakdara at Fatehpur, Swat Expressway Phase II, due to which it has delayed other road projects.
Posted in Dawn, May 2, 2022