Deputy Chief of Mission at the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad Zhao Lijian said Tuesday that 19 early harvest projects, worth $ 18.5 billion, under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor are making smooth progress towards completion and Sahiwal coal plant's second unit with capacity of 660MW is also ready for inauguration.
He expressed these views speaking at a conference on "Belt and Road Initiative and CPEC," organised by Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), an Islamabad-based think tank, on the occasion of the inauguration of the SVI's China Studies Centre. "CPEC is one of the best performing projects of our country's Belt and Road Initiative, he said, adding that the CPEC is the fastest and most effective among the projects being undertaken as part of the Belt and Road Initiative. He said the multibillion dollar CPEC project, which is being jointly undertaken by Pakistan and China, prioritises development of Gawadar, energy projects, transport infrastructure and industrial cooperation.
Referring to the progress on energy projects, he said that 660MW unit of Sahiwal Coal-fired Power Plant has completed its test run and is ready for inauguration. He said that first unit of the Sahiwal plant was inaugurated by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on May 24 and with the commission of second unit, the whole plant would be giving an output of 1,320MW.
"Port Qasim Coal-fired Power Plant is also expected to be completed this year, whereas three wind farms in Sindh are also nearing completion," he said. Lijian further said that the bidding process for Eastbay Expressway, which would link Gwadar Port with the main national highway network, is in the final stages and its groundbreaking ceremony would be performed this year. He said that work on Gwadar International Airport is also expected to commence this year. The Grant Agreement on Gwadar Airport and Framework Accord on Eastbay Expressway were signed during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's visit to China last month where he attended the Belt and Road Forum.
Secretary Ministry for Planning, Development and Reform Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui said that CPEC epitomises the growing mutuality of interest and vision of shared politico-economic future of Pakistan and China.
"Effective and timely implementation of the projects is critical for the overall Belt and Road Initiative timeline," he said. Project Director CPEC Hassan Daud Butt said that CPEC would speed up industrialisation and urbanisation of Pakistan so that it could grow into an inclusive and prosperous country.
He emphasised on mobilisation of all resources, maintaining national unity, consensus, and political stability, and doubling efforts for eradicating terrorism for timely completion of CPEC projects. President SVI Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema said China is not only playing an important role in development and security of Pakistan, but has an important influence in the entire region and beyond.
"The CPEC is an unparalleled plan for development, regional connectivity, industrialisation and infrastructure development," he said. About the SVI's China Studies Centre, Dr Cheema said that it would endeavour to study Pakistan-China relations as well as role of China in South Asia and beyond. He further said that the Centre would also carry out an in-depth research on security, economic, development and political aspects of Belt and Road Initiative and CPEC and their impact on regional integration and connectivity.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2017