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CPEC — challenges and solutions

Gilgit-Baltistan G-B is home to over 50 mountain peaks above 7,000 metres and three of the world’s largest glaciers that are also the greatest pure water storage assets for Pakistan. According to estimates by G-B’s Water and Power Department, around 45,000MW of hydropower can be produced through utilisation of these water resources. Yet due to the altitudinal factors, G-B has a mountain ecosystem vulnerable to climate change and one likely to be affected by the industrial and business developments in future.

Gilgit-Baltistan G-B has been in the spotlight following CPEC’s initiation. A project of scale as huge as CPEC is pivotal to the economic and social development of the populace of the region, generating more of income avenues, investment options and opportunities of capital utilisation. While simultaneously providing more prospects for cultural exchange, interaction and diversification. Nevertheless it has an unavoidable cost attached to it.

Massive industrial development along the routes starting from Kashgar in Xinjiang, China, to Abbottabad in K-P, Pakistan, will damage the ecological system and the scenic beauty of the region. The biggest threat will be of the traffic emissions moving through this route.

With CPEC, demand for petroleum products set to grow

According to a research study, a single 22-wheeler truck vehicle produces 931g of carbon dioxide per km. From Khunjarab Pass to the Bhasha Dam site, a 427km-long northern and southern boundaries of G-B, stretching on the Karakoram Highway, a single truck will emit 396.6kgs of carbon dioxide. CO2 emission will be heavier, 2913.1kgs, in one trip from Kashgar to Gwadar. With current capacity of KKH, for less than 1,000 trucks per day from China to Pakistan, with the expected maturity of road routes, by around 2035, it is projected that about 12,000 trucks will enter and leave Pakistan, making a total of 24,000 trucks running through the route per day.

Currently, about 2,000 trucks running on both sides emit 793.2 tons in and a total of 5,826.2 tons of CO2 from cargo vehicles per day. In future 9,508.8 tons of CO2 will be emitted per day in Gilgit-Baltistan G-B territory and a total of 69,914.4 tons of CO2 will be emitted into the atmosphere along the entire route in a single day.

In general, CO2 is a heavy gas that does not move upwards into the atmosphere and with high mountains in surroundings remains trapped in between, this will be apocalyptic to the region’s ecosystem. The high volume of the greenhouse CO2 trapped in mountains will significantly increase atmospheric temperature causing a heavy melting of glaciers. For a water-stressed country like Pakistan, this will initially cause floods and then alarmingly severe water shortage.

High concentration of pollutants in atmosphere will drastically deteriorate the air quality in the area and substantially increase the level of air pollution.

Scientific research and advanced technologies provide solutions to threats like global warming and environmental degradation. One such solution to have eco-friendly energy sources for transportation is hydrogen. Hydrogen, an energy carrier, can be used as fuel in vehicles, as most beneficially it emits water vapour but no harmful gases. Moreover, due to greater energy density than conventional fossil fuels efficiency of hydrogen-fuelled vehicles is significantly higher than that of conventional vehicles.

Key to CPEC success

Germany is currently leading in hydrogen technology and plans to make hydrogen accessible in all its big cities by 2020. In G-B’s case, hydrogen can be produced here by local hydropower resources with a zero carbon footprint. the G-B government needs to be proactive in decision-making, planning and strategising for future while collaborating with market leaders in this technology. As CPEC infrastructure is developed in stages and will take at least 10 to 15 years to complete and run on its optimal targets, a proactive initiative in this regard is vital to protect the environment.

As China is investing in development of environmentally-sustainable technologies, agreements with its government can be made to make CPEC an emission-free route.

SOURCE: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1688108/6-cpec-challenges-solutions/

Political squabbling hit Gwadar Port City development

QUETTA: Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Quddus Bizenjo has said that the provincial government is forced to take loan for the development of Gwadar Port City as the federal government has yet to release the promised Rs1 billion for the project.

“Neglecting Balochistan is tantamount to neglecting Pakistan as the country’s development depends on our province,” said Balochistan CM while talking to the media after an open court at the CM House on Friday.

PTI moves resolutions seeking PM apology over Sanjrani remarks

Bizenjo said, “Our differences with the federal government should not interfere with the provincial development.”

Lamenting the federal government’s reckless behaviour in releasing funds for Balochistan’s development, Bizenjo said, “The federal government pledged Rs1 billion for Gwadar Port City but the amount has yet to be released. The developmental projects are being completed by taking loans from donors because we want to provide relief to the people of Balochistan in line with the promise we made to them.”

He said, “Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi should think about the whole country and keep political differences aside.”

Bizenjo – a man of substance

Regretting over the PM’s remarks against the Senate chairman, the Balochistan CM said, “Abbasi’s statement against Sadiq Sanjrani has astonished the people of Balochistan.”

On new appointments of candidates who passed the National Testing Service (NTS) test, Bizenjo said, “Appointment orders of successful candidates will be issued this week. We have pledged to provide jobs on merit, but unfortunately we are being held responsible for the previous regime’s mismanagement.”

The chief minister said, “If we had a competent regime in the past, today Balochistan would have depicted a better picture. Those who were involved in corruption are holding us responsible for mass joblessness.”

Bizenjo for eliminating joblessness, poverty

Sharing his views on the newly formed Balochistan Awami Party, the CM said, “The new party is a gift for the people of Balochistan as the province needs new leadership to address the myriad of issues existing in Balochistan. I will announce my joining of the party.”

Rural areas : Govt committed to improving means of communication

SIALKOT: 

The government is utilising all available resources to improve means of communications evenly in urban and rural areas of the country, said Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif.

Addressing the laptop distribution ceremony at Government College for Women University, he said the basic concept for improving means of communications, was to bring far-off and neglected areas at par with the developed parts of the country.

The foreign minister said the mega project of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would play an instrumental role in bringing revolutionary change and usher in economic stability and prosperity, not only in the country but also in the whole region.  He was confident that Gwadar Port would emerge as the busiest port and play a dominant role in ensuring drastic economic stability and overall development of the country as well in the region.

Gwadar Port and CPEC projects would open a new vista of prosperity and development and enlarge the scope of employment opportunities for the people, he added. He added that the economic stability had become more vital at this juncture for making the country economically stable, bringing prosperity and boosting development process.

Asif said banishing of backwardness and elimination of poverty were on the top of government agenda and many steps had already been taken in this direction.

Source: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1638498/1-rural-areas-govt-committed-improving-means-communication/

CPEC Western route to be completed by end of this year

ISLAMABAD  : 

The western route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is going to be completed by the end of this year along with other 11 mega projects which were initiated in 2015-16.

The completion of those projects will reduce travelling time and boost economic activities.

“Hakla-DI Khan having the length 285km with a cost of Rs122 billion and 81km Zhob-Mughalkot costing Rs8.8billion funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will be completed by December 2018,” a senior National Highway Authority (NHA) official told The Express Tribune.

“The completion of these two projects will connect the port city of Gwadar with Quetta by Khuzdar,” he said and added, “With it the western route will become completely functional.”

According to the NHA the under-construction projects – the Hakla to Dera Ismail Khan motorway — is an important part of the western route of CPEC, and will reduce the travel time from Islamabad to DI Khan from five hours to just two-and-a-half hours.

It will greatly help the movement to the country’s southern cities such as Quetta and Gwadar.

Meanwhile, another important project — Khuzdar- Ratodero (151 km) that has been completed at a cost of Rs8.8 billion is all set to be inaugurated this year in April.

This project though is not part of CPEC.

NLC plans setting up international standard rest areas on CPEC route

“The significance of this project is that it will provide the much-needed connectivity between Balochistan and Sindh and also facilitate CPEC traffic originating from the Gwadar Port,” said the NHA official.

Other projects include the Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway (M-9) where 95% work has already been completed and will see the finish line in March.

The 136km, the six-lane motorway with the two-lane service road on either side, is being built on the BOT basis at a cost of Rs44 billion.

Being the country’s busiest section with over 30,000 daily traffic count, this motorway will be immensely helpful in catering to the commercial traffic originating from the Karachi Port and the Port Qasim.

Following the recent inauguration of the Lyari Expressway, M-9 will offer an added benefit to commuters to reach their destinations without facing the city congestions.

Gojra-Shorkot (62km) and Shorkot-Khanewal (65km) sections of M-4 are scheduled to complete by August with a cost of Rs17 billion and Rs22 billion, respectively.

Financed jointly by the Asian Development Bank and Government of Pakistan, their completion will reduce travel time from the federal capital to Multan to just 5 hours.

Lahore-Abdulhakim Motorway (230 km) is another important project that is expected to complete by May. Built at a cost of Rs 148 billion, the six-lane motorway will provide a swift and easy route between Lahore and Multan.

CPEC toll income — myth and reality

One of the important links of CPEC and the country’s longest planned motorway, Multan-Sukkur (M-5) is though scheduled to complete in 2019.

Its two sections — Multan to Shujaabad and Pano Aqil to Ghotki — will be completed this year. The 392km-long motorway is being financed by China at a cost of Rs294 billion.

Lahore-Sialkot Motorway (89 km) will be completed on the BOT mode by December at a cost of Rs44 billion. It will link the industrial city of Sialkot with the rest of the country, leading to swift movement of industrial products.

Islamabad Metro Bus (26.5km), another challenging project, is under execution and will be completed by the end of April. The project will link the traffic from the twin cities with the New Islamabad International Airport (NIIA).

Hazara Motorway (E-35) from Burhan to Shah Maqsood Interchange (47km) is already completed and open to traffic. The 15km addition is scheduled to complete by May, thus reducing the distance between Islamabad and Abbottabad to one-and-a-half hours.

The widening and improvement of GT Road section from Thokar Niaz Baig to Hudria Drain (10km) is underway and will be completed this year.

Source: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1633076/1-cpec-western-route-completed-end-year/

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PM inaugurates free trade zone, first international Gwadar expo

QUETTA: 

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has told the Balochistan government to draw plans for the development of the coastal areas of the province and promised federal government’s full cooperation in this regard.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the two-day Gwadar Expo in Gwadar, the prime minister announced an ‘Equalisation Package’ for Balochistan under which the federal government would provide 50% funding for development works in every district of the province.

“[A] free zone is an integral part of the Gwadar port and with it, the Gwadar port project will pave the way for the speedy development of Balochistan and create ample jobs opportunities,” Prime Minister Abbasi told the ceremony.

“The Equalisation Package will ensure the provision of equal facilities in all districts of the province to achieve the goal of sustainable development,” he said.

The PM said it was incumbent upon the Balochistan government to find solutions to its problems and meet the challenges. As far as federal government was concern, he added, it would provide all help and facilities to the province.

He described the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as “the most important initiative of our generation and the most visible part of the Belt and Road Initiative”. He added the project was the realisation of the vision of Chinese President Xi Jinping and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

CPEC to promote connectivity, shared prosperity in region: China

“The CPEC is a reality now,” Abbasi said, adding that under the project, motorways and highways were linking Gwadar and Khanjrab and Peshawar and Karachi. He added that railway lines were being modernised, power projects were being established and special economic zones would generate employment.

The Gwadar Expo is being jointly organised by the Gwadar Development Authority and the China Overseas Ports Holding Company (COPHC). It aimed at providing a platform for interaction between local, foreign private sector and government officials for exploring investment opportunities.

On the occasion, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing reaffirmed his country’s support for Pakistan for its progress and prosperity. “Chinese businessmen will continue to invest in the developmental projects of Gwadar,” he said.

COPHC Chairman Zhang said the development of Gwadar would not only help improve the local economy but also the overall economic conditions of the country.

CPEC will transform Pakistan into commercial trading centre, Chief of Naval Staff

Ports and Shipping Minister Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Chairman Joint Chiefs of staff Committee General Zubair Hayat, Commander Southern Command Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, provincial ministers Sarfraz Bugti and Asim Kurd were also present at the ceremony.

Source: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1621031/1-pm-inaugurates-free-trade-zone-first-international-gwadar-expo/

Balochistan government drafts proposal to address concerns of natives in Gwadar

ISLAMABAD: As the native residents of Gwadar are still concerned about demographic changes in the wake of fast development on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) related projects, Balochistan government plans to propose a number of measures to address their grievances.

“One of the major concerns of residents in Gwadar is about the loss of as much as 70 per cent of land that has now gone into foreign hands. Moreover, they are concerned as they are fast becoming a minority in their own land due to the influx of outsiders following the gaining momentum at Gwadar seaport,” said an official at Gwadar Development Authority (GDA).

In order to remove the sense of deprivation, the government of Balochistan is taking a number of steps which include educating locals and providing robust training to the illiterate population, he reiterated.

“After numerous meetings and deliberation with the residents and high officials, the government has finally drafted a proposal to be presented in Balochistan and National Assembly to refuse provision of domicile and voting rights to outsiders,” the official informed Pakistan Today during a recent visit to the area adding that this way the locals would be able to preserve their identity on political front.

He said that this proposal is highly unlikely to be accepted by the locals as they are reluctant to leave their homes. “We fear that if the locals refuse the government’s proposal they might end up living in slums amid a developed Gwadar.” He added, as part of the proposal all who agree to make the move will be provided with constructed homes and facilities in exchange for their land at the port area.

“We have assured that the business of local people will not be harmed and in fact, they will be facilitated with opportunities to boost their business,” the official said. In reply to a query, he said, under the constitution of Pakistan, a special royalty or compensation system is not possible to be offered to the natives however, we will fully compensate the locals in form of rent from land or similar arrangements.

“Moreover in order to preserve the rights and allocate more share of the development and business activity for the locals, the people of Gwadar are being offered alternative land in nearby areas along with monthly or annual rent for land that will be used for business/commercial activities at the port,” he said.

Talking to Pakistan Today, a fish exporter and native resident of Gwadar, on the basis anonymity, said that an overwhelming majority of locals, who have been offered plots in housing societies nearby have opted to sell their land at extremely low prices. Moreover, the majority that is holding onto their homes have no alternative land to offer as they have already sold it. They fear that they might not have anywhere else to go.

He said while clarifying misconceptions about natives, “The impression that people of Gwadar are uneducated is not true since various highly qualified people of the area are either living in other provinces and cities or live abroad. They may come back to Gwadar if the city is provided all the required facilities or once CPEC is fully developed,” he added.

Both Pakistan and the Chinese government should support the residents of Gwadar to improve and boost fishing in the area, he added.

Talking about concerns of the locals related to CPEC, he argued the local Baloch community in Gwadar would be politically marginalised in case the outsiders are given voting right. “Non-locals have bought huge swaths of land in Gwadar and it indicates that after 10 years, the Baloch will be reduced to a minority given the increasing influx of outsiders to the area,” he argued.

Talking about how they feel about the development activities in the area, a local fisherman said: “This is all being done for China, not the locals.”

However, it seems the government and NGOs, as observed in the area, are actively trying to give more benefits of development activities to the locals. A representative of Pak-China Technical and Vocational Institute Gwadar, a Public Private Partnership (PPP) project between Gwadar Port Authority and Karachi-based Y-30 Technologies ACES Private Ltd, said his institute was set up in the old premises of the Government Degree College Gwadar on October 29, 2017. The institution was offering eight different short duration courses to the local youth. In phase-1 the locals were being taught skills such as Chinese and English language, woodwork, dress designing and information technology while being trained to become electricians, mechanics and beauticians along with other courses. He added that this would help youngsters contribute towards projects being established under CPEC and earn a respectable living.

Source: Pakistan Today, 27th January 2018.