ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Federal government has recently presented its budget 2015-2016 with a total outlay of Rs4,313 billion; however, surprisingly neither the budget document nor the Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s speech mentioned the ambitious railway line project linking Islamabad with Muzaffarabad vis Murree.
In his budget speech in the National Assembly in Islamabad on June 6, the federal finance minister announced the National Development Program of worth Rs1,513 billion for the fiscal year 2015-2016 which also included Rs700 billion as federal Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).
However, the booklet issued by the government of Pakistan under the title “Public Sector Development Programme 2015-16” does not contain any information about the project. Neither the Pakistan Railways nor Kashmir Affairs section include the project in its on-going schemes or new schemes.
It is pertinent to mention that the approximately 110-kilometre long rail project between Islamabad and Muzaffarabad was approved by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in May 2014. Later on July 21, the tender for the feasibility study was floated and the federal government also provided Rs2 billion in seed money.
On May 27 this year, the media reports said that the feasibility report – jointly being done by members of the engineering department of the Pakistan Railways and technical experts from China – of the Islamabad-Murree-Muzaffarabad train service wa nearing completion and it would soon be presented to the prime minister for allocation of funds for the project. The reports said that the project is planned to be completed in three years.
The sources said that the government plans to complete the train service project in two phases which include 35-kilometer long route from H-9 Margalla Railway Station-Aabpara-Bhara Kahu-Bahria Golf City-Commoners Sky Garden-Manga to Bostal and a 20-kilometer long tunnel from Lower Topa.
The project has been the part of discussion in high level meetings presided over by the prime minister in recent months while country’s leading newspapers also covered the stories about it. Even the project also came under discussion in the Senate Standing Committee on Railways during one of its meetings in October 2014 when the members of the committee expressed their displeasure over the modalities of the process of materializing the project.
But yet the project which was aimed at providing an easy access to Murree and Muzaffarabad especially for the tourists goes suddenly missing.