ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday officially approved the launch of work on the Leh Expressway and Flood Channel Project worth Rs65 billion under public-private partnership basis.
The approval was granted in a meeting held with the prime minister in the chair and attended by Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and senior officials. Punjab Chief Minister’s Special Assistant Dr Salman Shah and Punjab Chief Secretary Jawad Rafiq attended the meeting via video link from Lahore.
The prime minister was informed that Leh Expressway was an important project because it will help put an end to traffic congestion in the garrison city.
The flood channel will solve the issue of flooding in the city during monsoon.
The project will be completed in two years, and the expressway will be constructed on both sides of Leh Nullah.
The prime minister issued directions to immediately start work on the project, which will contribute towards the transformation of Rawalpindi. Zoning of the area concerned and changes in relevant bylaws should also be completed so that commercial and multi-storey buildings can be constructed along both sides of the Leh Expressway.
After the meeting, Sheikh Rashid said work on the project will begin in a month, adding initially Rs30 billion will be spent on it.
He said commercial buildings, restaurants, hotels and roads will be constructed along the expressway. “After completion of the project, people will see a new and planned Rawalpindi,” he added.
Commissioner retired Capt Mohammad Mehmood, who is the project director, told Dawn that the prime minister was informed about the plan to attract investors.
“Two shopping plazas will be constructed on state land near Rialto Cinema measuring 35 kanals and secondly we would end the curve of the nullah at Kattarian bridge where more than 50 kanals has been kept for commercial purposes. After this, total length of the expressway would be 16.5 kms without any curve,” he said.
The prime minister issued directions to develop the area along the nullah.
“We had a plan to bring investors who will develop the area with the help of locals and construct commercial buildings and RDA will develop new building by-laws and it will be an urban regeneration project to improve infrastructure,” he added.
It may be mentioned that 1,604 houses fall in the right of way of Leh Expressway and 1,279 kanals is to be acquired – 1,035.9 kanals of private land, 132.4 kanals owned by Military Engineering and Works, 54.7 kanals owned by Chaklala Cantonment Board and 56 kanals owned by Rawalpindi Cantonment Board.
Meanwhile, Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) has approved a proposal for Leh Nullah Expressway and sent it to the Public Private Partnership Authority Punjab.
The feasibility study and master planning for special economic zones along Ring Road has also been approved. The decision was taken at the 52nd meeting of the RDA governing body chaired by RDA Chairman Tariq Mehmood Murtaza.
RDA Director General Chaudhry Maqbool Ahmed Dhawla gave a briefing to the governing body.