New Balakot City Project – Still long way to complete
ERRA surrenders New Balakot City project Says the project cannot be completed
Islamabad (THeNews / Tuesday, December 4, 2012) – Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) has expressed its inability to complete the New Balakot city project and wants to surrender the project, said an official on Monday.
“We haven’t been able to complete the project because the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government has failed to get the required land vacated despite having received huge payments for land acquisition,” said Hamid Yar Hiraj, chairman ERRA, in an interview with the Jang Group. “The delay on the part of KP government has caused donor countries, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Libya, who promised to help build the project, withdraw their offer. Now we want the KP government to compete the project,” said Hiraj.
Sources in ERRA said that 3,900 families of Balakot City are still shelter-less, seven years after the catastrophic earthquake of 2005. “Just imagine, how the poor victims must have suffered, thanks to the ‘most efficient’ ERRA, which is being mainly run by army personnel – both serving and retired – who hold top slots in the organisation,” said one insider.
After the earthquake, the then government planned to build the Rs12 billion new Balakot City on modern lines to accommodate the affected people. The project got delayed and little progress is visible on site because of the failure of ERRA and the KP government in getting possession of the land required to complete the project.
Brig (R) Zafar Hussain Wahla, director general planning, who also looks after the project and was on his way to Islamabad from the project site in KP, told The News that the cost of the project is feared to have gone up by more than 50 percent because of the inordinate delay in the execution of the project. “However, we are going to initiate the process of reassessing the new cost of the project, which is a victim of the poor implementation of rules.” However, Wahla said he was unaware of ERRA’s desire to surrender this important project.
Wahla said the government purchased the land during the Musharraf era but it could not be handed over to ERRA. “ERRA has not managed to get the land vacated and even if this is done, two more years are required to complete the project, provided finan