Ministry of Planning and Development Spokesman Asim Khan Sunday said on the inaugural day, high officials from both countries would not only review progress on various projects being carried out under the umbrella of CPEC but also finalize proposals regarding future projects.
With the seventh Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meetings coming up, the province intends to suggest six new projects, according to representative information provided. A look at these shows a precise focus on progressing Gwadar’s development along with additional logistic progress.
The six projects that the province will present in the JCC are: Financial assistance from EXIM Bank for Gwadar; Construction of alternate harbor with allied facilities and establishment of necessary facilities for boat building industry on West-bay of Gwadar; Model Fisherman Residential village; Northern bypass (77 KM); Extension of airport road to New Gwadar International Airport; and Extension of Jinnah Avenue towards Koh-e-Batil and Northern bypass.
Even though Balochistan lead the way with 13 projects that were agreed upon in the sixth JCC meetings in December 2017, there has been criticism from various quarters that the power of the development has been focused on Gwadar leading to unequal growth in the province.
Some officials spoken to were of the opinion that, along with Gwadar, until and unless the rest of the provincial economy was not integrated within the CPEC project, sustainable progress would not take place. There were multiple mentions of Lahore’s Rapid Mass transit projects as the first step towards this holistic growth.
Projects focused on the afore-mentioned socio-economic development, and which were supposed to be presented in the upcoming JCC, were the Quetta Mass Transit projects, the transportation of water from Pat-Feeder to Quetta project and the Bostan Special Economic Zone. All of these will now be postponed as the initial work for their presentation has not been completed.
On an inquiry into the reasons why the initial work had not been completed an official made a case for the province’s capacity constraints. He was of the opinion that the federal government should support the province by providing technical assistance and bemoaned the federal departments’ indifference.
Be it capacity constraints or a lack of a proactive approach one thing is certain, for work on CPEC projects to continue smoothly and for a semblance of equivalent development to be put forth, the belief that the project is benefitting only a select few areas needs to be combated.
A major step in this direction would be the approval of projects like the Quetta mass transit, Quetta water and to an extent the Bostan SEZ; all three of which have been postponed for another year that too based on their feasibility studies.