As reported by Pakistantoday, the parliamentary committee on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was informed on Monday that a "total consensus" between the four provinces and other federating units had been achieved on the CPEC during a recent meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) held in Beijing.
The assurance was conveyed during a briefing by Minister Ahsan Iqbal to the committee led by Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed. This was the 20th meeting of the parliamentary committee on the CPEC and it received a detailed and comprehensive briefing about decisions taken during the 6th meeting of the JCC held in Beijing on December 28-29. The meeting was attended by chief ministers of KPK, Sindh, Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan.
Dismissing rumours about Thar coal, Ahsan Iqbal told the committee that Thar coal would be used for electricity for the next 400 years and that two transmission lines were being installed at Mariari-one to Lahore, and another to Faisalabad-which will be connected to the national grid, benefiting all parts of the country.
"We have achieved total consensus on the way forward regarding the CPEC. Diamer-Bhasha Dam will also be a part of the CPEC. 11000 MW of electricity will be added to the national grid by 2018, out of which 5000 MW will be generated under CPEC projects and 5000 MW under non-CPEC projects. This will be the biggest energy investment in the history of Pakistan," the minister said.
Additionally, there was agreement on giving priority to the construction of the western route of the CPEC as well as up-gradation and duplication of the Karachi-Torkham railway line at a cost of $8 billion. The minister said that industrial zones proposed by the provinces as well as Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan had been approved by the JCC and proper feasibility studies would be carried out.
"A proposal by the Sindh government for an additional port at Keti Bandar will also be considered," the minister said.
"All four provincial capitals will have rail-based mass transit systems as part of the CPEC. The November 13th Kashgar-Gwadar caravan travelled on the western route and the establishment of this road link slashed the travel time from Quetta to Gwadar from 2 days to 8 hours," he added.
Ahsan Iqbal also thanked the parliamentary committee for its relentless efforts throughout 2016 to forge the consensus on the CPEC through consultation of all its members representing different provinces and areas of Pakistan.
Senator Mushahid Hussain welcomed the breakthrough at the JCC meeting and said that the corridor was already on the road to consolidation.
"2017 will be the year that the CPEC takes off. All key projects are going as scheduled," he added. The members also underlined the need to expose and counter any baseless propaganda about the CPEC by forces inimical to the interests of Pakistan and a strategic Pakistan-China partnership.
On the recommendation of some of the members, it was decided that there should be a comprehensive briefing by the ministry of water and power on the energy plan till 2020, as well as the construction of transmission lines by the NTDC. The ministry of planning will also give a briefing on the long terms plans of the CPEC, which is expected to keep developing till 2030.
The meeting was attended by Secretary of the Committee Nasim Khalid, Senator Shibli Faraz, Senator Baz Mohammad Khan, Senator Gen (r) Salahuddin Tirmizi, Chief Minister of Gilgit Baltistan Hafeezur Rehman, Akram Khan Durrani, Rana Afzal Khan, Isphanyar Bhandara, Asad Umar, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Ghous Bux Mahar, Aftab Khan Sherpao, Shahji Gul Afridi, and Lt Gen (r) Abdul Qadir Baloch, and others.