RAWALPINDI: After completing its inquiry report, the federal government requested the provincial authority to revive the old alignment of the Rawalpindi Ring Road project that was cancelled in April 2021.
According to prior plans, the 66.3 km-long road, worth Rs64 billion, will begin from Rawat to Thalian, and end at Sangjani.
After dismissing alleged corruption charges in the Rawalpindi Ring Road scandal against former commissioner Capt. (Retd.) Muhammad Mahmood, the Establishment Division asked the Punjab government and Planning Commission on Monday to restore the project on optimal alignment, after consulting the concerned stakeholders.
In an official press release, the Establishment Division confirmed that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has ordered a third-party evaluation by an independent and reputable consulting firm for determining an optimal route for Rawalpindi Ring Road.
“Former commissioner Capt. (Retd.) Muhammad Mahmood has been exonerated from the charges levelled against him under the Civil Servants (Efficiency and Discipline) Rules, 2020,” it further added.
The whole affair was brought to attention when former prime minister Imran Khan looked into allegations in April 2021 that the Punjab bureaucracy, along with a few politicians from PTI, had planned an additional road that would have benefited some private housing schemes and increased the cost of the project by Rs25 billion.
In consequence, a committee was formed by Chief Secretary Jawwad Rafique Malik in May 2021. Two months later, Capt. (Retd.) Muhammad Mahmood was arrested by the anti-corruption establishment.
However, after PML-N came to power, the federal government ordered another inquiry by a committee led by Director General Civil Services Academy Omer Rasul.
The matter was investigated and ultimately the former commissioner was cleared of all charges. In light of this development, the government decided to reinstate the old alignment to connect it with the capital city.
The previous government had proposed a new alignment from Rawat to Motorway.
The total cost of the project is Rs33.7 billion, including Rs27 billion for construction costs and Rs6.7 billion for land acquisition.