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China assures Murad of inclusion of KCR, Keti Bandar projects in CPEC

China assures Murad of inclusion of KCR, Keti Bandar projects in CPEC

KARACHI: Chinese authorities have assured the Sindh government that they would pursue Karachi Circular Railway, Keti Bandar and other projects to officially include them in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)-related projects.

This emerged on Tuesday in a meeting between Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and a Chinese government delegation led by Beijing’s Ambassador in Pakistan Nong Rong.

The other delegation members were Chinese Consul General Li Bijian, defence attaché Maj Gen Chen Wen Rong, consular Bao Zhong, deputy defence attaché Senior Col Ji Xinqi, Lt Col Di Weichao, first secretary Wang Xianfeng and third secretary Wu Linglin.

Financing request for KCR

The chief minister told the delegation that on the request of his government the KCR was included in CPEC on Dec 3, 2016. The project was approved and included in 6th Joint Coordination Committee (JCC). He added that the project was approved by Ecnec at a cost of $1.97 billion in Oct 2017.

The CM says centre hasn’t addressed KCR issues despite his multiple requests

Mr Shah said that the KCR had been part of all JCC meetings and in all the meetings it was stated to be a feasible and viable project but there were major obstacles that needed to be removed.

He added that the obstacles included sharing of a framework agreement, sovereign guarantee by the finance division, concessional finance request to Chinese government by the federal government, right of way for KCR at common corridor between ML-1 and KCR.

He said that he had been requesting the federal government to resolve the issues, but the issues were still unaddressed.

“In the 9th JCC meeting the KCR was again discussed and it was resolved that the Pakistan side will submit the financing request to the Chinese side,” he said and added it had not been submitted yet.

Talking about the current situation of the KCR, Mr Shah said that the federal government included two projects in the public sector development programme of FY 21, which were Rs1.85bn organisation of train on existing KCR alignment and revival of KCR Phase-II for Rs8.7bn.

He said that he had included three projects in the provincial ADP 2020-21, which include revival of KCR (CPEC framework) for Rs207.5bn, construction of a boundary fence along the KCR alignment for Rs2.3 million and construction of underpasses/flyovers on railway crossing along KCR route for Rs5bn.

The visiting delegation assured the chief minister that they would take up the KCR projects in the CPEC-related meeting.

Keti Bandar

The chief minister said that Keti Bandar was located about 107km from Thatta city and 150km from Karachi via Gharo and it was very promising in terms of future prospects.

He said that the Keti Bandar project was an important part of the Sindh government’s strategy towards developing the energy sector.

Mr Shah said that 4,000 acres of land had been identified for the project and a feasibility study was completed for installation of a 1,320MW power plant along with a railway line, coal jetty and allied infrastructure.

“A financial viability assessment and bid management report has also been completed and the transaction advice report is being awaited,” he added.

The CM said that the project was part of CPEC framework since 2017. Earlier, the project was referred to the Joint Working Group (JWG) for consideration. “After completion of the studies, the project is now ready to be taken up in the main framework,” he said.

The other projects that came under discussion included Thar coal energy, infrastructure, special economic zone, Dhabeji, socio-economic development projects.

The Chinese delegation said that their first CPEC project of 660MW Thar coal power plants was functioning successfully and on the same pattern all the CPEC-related projects would be completed on a fast-track basis.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2021

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