Engineering Council To Be Taken On Board For Development Projects
The Senate Standing Committee Development and Reform in its meeting on Monday at Parliament House stressed the need for the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) to be consulted on the various projects undertaken by the Ministry. It took the view that, as recommended earlier, the Ministry of Planning Development and Reform must work in unison with PEC regarding causes of delay in execution of projects. It was emphasized that expert advice on projects will save the government revenue and time. Issues taken up included RBOB-II Mega Drainage Project and the King Suleiman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud Hospital.
Chaired by Senator Agha Shahzaib Durrani, the meeting was attended by Senator Engr. Rukhsana Zuberi, Senator Hidayatullah, Senator Gianchand and senior officers from the Ministry of Planning Development and Reform. Representatives of the Sindh Irrigation Department and National Highway Authority (NHA) attended the meeting as well.
While discussing compliance on various recommendations, it was revealed that the Ministry of Planning Development and Reform undertakes field and desk monitoring with the Ministries/ Divisions to address impeding issues in implementation. The release mechanism has been streamlined in consultation with the Finance Division to ensure timely availability of funds to the project authorities. In addition, the Ministry of Planning Development and Reform undertakes a monthly and quarterly review of the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) as per the directions of the Prime Minister.
The Senate Committee was also informed that the PC/MPDR is already working for streamlining the approval process of development projects. Moreover, automation of the PC-I form and approval process is at the final stage, under which tracking and monitoring of projects will be performed under an E-office mechanism and progress will be reported on the official website as well.
Discussing the increase in toll-tax, the Committee was informed that the National Highway Authority (NHA) does not increase toll-tax on a monthly basis. The process takes place approximately after four years. Regarding the M1 motorway, it was revealed that a 12-15 percent increase was imposed in 2018.
Reviewing the Committee’s decision to bring important amendments in the Land Acquisition Act, the Committee was informed that the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, in the meeting of its Central Development Working Party (CDWP) held on the 18th of November, 2019, has directed to devise a mechanism to counter land procurement issues and a meeting will be arranged with concerned officials and special areas.
Deliberating over the RBOB-II Mega Drainage Project from Sehwan to the sea, the Committee was informed that the main hitch in its progress was re-mobilization of the Frontier Works Organization (FWO) as it had stopped work on the project due to scarcity of funds in 2010. The Committee was assured that all payments will be made on time and that all stakeholders are on board regarding this issue. In addition to this, it was revealed that court cases on land acquisition are another major impediment in progress of this project and must be resolved at the earliest.
The author is a reporter based in Islamabad.