Islamabad [Pakistan], May 16 (ANI): Evidence has emerged that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and (Pakistan's) Punjab chief minister had endorsed the Rawalpindi Ring Road (RRR) project that was being called a scandal.
Khan had recently directed the Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar to launch a probe into the RRR project and had taken notice of the alleged changes in the route of the project allegedly at the behest of certain private interests, reported The News International.
The changes referred to had been endorsed the PM and the CM themselves. On February 4, 2021, while referring to a meeting held under the chairmanship of PM Imran Khan on the Ring Road and Margalla Highway, the PM Office issued directions that interestingly endorsed what is now seen as the scandalous addition of the 'Attock loop' and 'Paswal Zigzag' in the RRR project, reported The News International.
According to the PM Office directive, "Keeping in mind the original alignment of the Margalla Highway, part of the Ring Road falling in the Islamabad Capital Territory shall be required and developed by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) from its own resources. This will be connected with the Rawalpindi Ring Road leading to the M1 eventually. CDA will acquire the right of way for the road in Zone-2 for development and beyond the ROW, the area will be fenced to make it controlled access."
The above part of the PM's directive actually talks about what is now known as the 'Paswal Zigzag' which connects the Margalla Road with the RRR at Sangjani in Zone-2. Connecting the Margalla Road with the RRR is only possible via Sangjani, which is now being scandalised because the land has been owned by the family of senior bureaucrat Dr Tauqir Shah for centuries and also because Special Assistant to the PM Zulfi Bukhari's mother belongs to the same Shah family. Zufli Bukhari's family, however, does not enjoy good relations with the Shahs of Sangjani, reported The News International.
The second part of the Khan's February 4 directive gives a direction to the Punjab government and it reads: "The eastward portion from the M1, falling in Punjab, be constructed and fenced by the Government of Punjab."
The "eastern portion from the M1" is what is now being objected to and termed the 'Attock loop'. According to an informed source, "This decision by the Khan undermines the 'Attock loop' and "Paswal zigzag' story scandal. The PM himself said 'connect the Margalla Road with the RRR in Zone 2 of the ICT' -- which in a way is like endorsing the alignment adopted by the R3", reported The News International.
Almost 23 days after the PM's directive, the Project Review Committee of Punjab's Public Private Partnership Policy and Monitoring Board met on Feb 17, 2021 under the chairmanship of Dr Salman Shah, advisor to the CM on Economic Affairs. It not only approved the RRR alignment that included the Attock loop and Paswal zigzag portion but also did the costing and financing for the project.
Documents show that the RRR's alignment, which is now seen as a scandal, was there even in 2020. A CDA document dated March 25, 2020 shows that the Authority issued an NOC to the Rawalpindi Development Authority to connect the RRR with the Margalla Avenue in the Sangjani area.
Another document shows the Chief Minister Punjab chairing a meeting of the PPP Policy & Monitoring Board in September 2020 and deciding to authorise the RDA to develop a "Solicited Project Proposal" for the RRR project on a fast-track basis, reported The News International. (ANI)