By Azhar Siddique
RAWALPINDI, Nov 08 (APP): Long awaited Rawalpindi Ring Road Project, a scheme that is harbinger of a new era of development and prosperity in the region, is going to be launched soon as all arrangements are being finalized and the Punjab government has released Rupees. 6.7 billion funds for acquisition of the land.
There will also be an economic corridor to boost the local and regional economy by establishing an industrial zone and commercial and business hubs.
The objective to construct the ring road is to improve economic connectivity and road transport efficiency in the twin cities, Rawalpindi-Islamabad through constructing a ring road and associated facilities.
The Ring Road project was initiated in 1991 by Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) but couldn’t be executed for a long time.
In 2008, a fresh feasibility study was conducted to construct the road from Channi Sher Alam to Fatehjang near the New Islamabad Airport through foreign investors on the basis of private-public partnership. In that plan, the RDA made changes by reducing the total length of the road from 75km to 54km.
It also dropped the idea of laying a rail track along the road to connect the main railway lines with the new airport. The changes were made to reduce the project cost.The Punjab government has added 10 new commercial and residential zones in the Rawalpindi Ring Road Project Economic Corridor (RRPEC).
The government has released the plan of the Rawalpindi Ring Road project after approval.
A dry port equipped with modern facilities, a state of the art hospital and an international expo centre along with the establishment of fruit and vegetable wholesale markets, goods and public transport terminals and cattle markets will be part of the project.
The farmers will also have direct access to the market.
According to Commissioner Rawalpindi Division, Capt. ® Mohammad Mehmood, the CM had approved the project to ease traffic congestion and boost economic activity in the region. The authorities concerned had also been directed to begin the project as soon as possible, he added.
The Punjab government has released Rs6.7 million for land acquisition and the work to acquire land will start after approval from the Board of Revenue, he said.
The PC-I for land acquisition for package one of the Ring Road project had been approved, he said adding, it would cost Rs6.7bn to acquire land for the portion of the road from the G.T. Road to Hakla interchange, which was known as package one.
Around 14,600 kanals land would be acquired in 27 villages, he informed.
The Commissioner said the road would take two and a half years to complete. Package two, from the Motorway to Sangjani, would connect to a ring road in Islamabad.
Land for the road connecting to Margalla Avenue would be acquired by the RDA and Capital Development Authority (CDA).Education and health zones would include a hospital, colleges and universities, while recreational zones would boost tourism along with the establishment of a modern theme park, he said.
Its design speed is120km and the travel time from Tarnol to Rawat for cars is estimated to be an hour and 14 minutes and more than two hours for trucks with an average speed of 50km.Muhammad Mahmood said that the project would give a new look to the city.
Rehabilitation schemes would be provided with site allocation which would reduce the chaotic spread of urban population as much as possible and provide housing facilities at all levels.
Landfill sites would also be identified under a section of the bay where solid waste management and dumping sites will also help in keeping the area clean.
Mohammad Mahmood said that the owners of the land to be acquired, would be compensated and paid an amount according to the market rate.
Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) Chairman Tariq Murtaza said that 65.6 kilometre (km) long Ring Road would have six lanes on each side like the motorway.
The service roads would also be constructed along the main road while RDA would plant 0.15 million saplings on the entire route of the signal-free corridor.
Murtaza said that the project would have interchanges at eight different locations including Radio Pakistan, Rawat, Chak Beli, Adyala, Chakri, M2 Mor, Islamabad International Airport (IIA), and Sangjani while residential zones would be established along Sangjani, Adiala, Chakri and Chak Beli interchanges.
He said that the federal government has approved establishment of two new dry ports, one in Punjab and the other in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Of these, one would be established near Rawat on the Ring Road.
The planned expo centre along Ring Road would be constructed near IIA. The hospital in the project would be built near Chak Beli Interchange whereas the amusement park would also be constructed between Chakri and Morat interchanges to facilitate the citizens.
He expressed the hope that the PM Imran Khan and Punjab Chief Minister Usman Bazdar would lay the foundation of the mega project in December.
Under the first phase, some 51 km land would be acquired from Radio Pakistan on GT Road to China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) route.
The land acquisition for the 14 km long road from Sangjani would be started later under the second phase.Chairman RDA said that the credit for the project goes to the CM Punjab who took keen interest to launch it.
He said, the Ring Road would set a new horizon for the development of Rawalpindi city and it would pave the way for the development of the city in the southwest.
Tariq Mahmood Murtaza said a residential project would also be completed on 3,000 kanals of land in the name of RDA City with Adiala Road Interchange within the economic zone.
Ring Road is a much needed project for the twin cities as the citizens face difficulties on a daily basis due to traffic gridlocks at several roads including Rawalpindi city’s main artery, Murree Road.
Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar had approved construction of the Rs50 billion Rawalpindi Ring Road under a public-private partnership.
The citizens said, the Rawalpindi Ring Road project would be a great gift of the PTI government for the people of the region and special attention should be given to it so that the project of public utility could be started as soon as possible.
The business community has also appreciated the Ring Road project and termed it as a great addition to the infrastructure
.President, Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) Nasir Mirza, representatives of Anjuman-e-Tajran and other trade leaders, Shahid Ghafoor Paracha, Nasir Mir, Sheikh Hafeez, Arshad Awan, Taj Abbasi, Tahir Taj Bhatti and other said the project would be a game changer for the city as the proposed industrial zones would help turn the city into a hub of trade activities.
The project was important for the development of Rawalpindi and should be completed within the shortest possible time frame. The stakeholders should also be taken on board while finalizing the allocation and demarcation of the land for the Industrial Zones, they urged.
Group leader and former RCCI president Sohail Altaf said the project should be given full government patronage.
He said that the main objective of the project was to shift wholesale markets, easing traffic congestion and promote Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
The Ring Road beginning from Rawat (G.T. Road ) would pass through Chak Baley Khan, Baga Sangral, Baga Miana, Gora Bharta, Meera Bharta, Chak Thoha, Losar, Chak Khas, Davari, Kotla, Sanbal, Gahi Mera, Khengar Kalan, Bhattian Nordin, Hoshyal, Laila Kamalpar, Mora Pahpra, Chappar, Tarahiya, Mian Ahmada, Kasala Kalan, Kasala Khurd, Miana Jabr, Mirakhbeginningord and Mira Kalan.
The proposed alignment generally avoids urban populations and settlements as it navigates through the outskirts of the twin cities.