THE Rawalpindi Ring Road project, the physical work on which was about to be launched, is at the verge of virtual collapse due to undue interference by some vested interests.
In the backdrop of an inquiry into allegations of corruption and misuse of power in finalizing the route and map of the project, the Punjab Government has made some bureaucratic changes but the most important question i.e. the fate of the project remains unanswered.
The long-awaited Rawalpindi Ring Road is considered to be an economic game changer in the region because of its intended benefits in terms of employment generation, accelerating the pace of socio-economic activities, its linkage with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and creation of new industrial zones, warehouses and dry ports along its route besides its utility in mitigating traffic congestions in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
The bidding process for the project was about to begin but it was called off in April 2021 after allegations that changes in the re-alignment of the road has not only escalated its cost by Rs 25 billion but also benefited some private housing societies.
It is not fully known what exactly the findings of the inquiry are but on the face of it, there appears to be a conflict of interests that is making the project controversial.
Changes in the route and escalation of originally estimated cost are not unusual as changes are incorporated in development projects keeping public interest and ground situation in view.
There is, therefore, no harm if the project, in any way, benefits some housing societies as it would mean benefits for their residents.
There should be an impartial analysis of the original and amended routes and the project finalized on a fast track basis because of its immense benefits.