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Rawalpindi Ring Road Scandal: Facts vs Rumors

Rawalpindi Ring Road Scandal

Rawalpindi Ring Road is a mega development project which encircles the twin cities by creating a seamless by-pass on GT Road for traffic coming from Central Punjab and Northern Punjab. It is quite a hyped up development project which unfortunately succumbed to a mega scandal recently which negatively affected the real estate of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

As we know that The revised route map of Rawalpindi Ring Road had been approved by the Punjab Government and Lahore Ring Road Authority had started the bidding process to award construction tender.

All of a sudden, Prime Minister got information that Rawalpindi Ring Road route has been changed secretly for individual benefits and it is going to become a mega corruption scandal for the PTI Government. PM Imran Khan immediately stopped the bidding process and ordered an inquiry into the matter. 

The Punjab Government removed all Bureaucrats who had been involved in the planning of Rawalpindi Ring Road including the Commissioner Rawalpindi who is said to be the main culprit. A new commissioner was appointed who conducted inquiry in a hasty manner and produced a report which shook the property market so badly that investments along Rawalpindi Ring Road came to a halt. 

The report not only approves of the allegations but also lists down the number of Bureaucrats and private housing schemes which influenced the change of alignment for personal gains. It also alludes to involvement of a Federal Government Minister and a Special Assistant in this mega corruption scandal.

Old vs New Alignments of Rawalpindi Ring Road

Before you read more details about the inquiry report, it is important to understand old and new alignments of Rawalpindi Ring Road. We have attaching both maps below so that you can understand what was the actual plan and what changes were made.

Following is the old approved alignment of Rawalpindi Ring Road prepared by NESPAK:

Rawalpindi Ring Road Alignment Plan

Following is the revised alignment of Ring Road prepared by Zeeruk International:

Rawalpindi Ring Road New Alignment Map

As you can see on the map above, old alignment simply connects GT road with Motorway M-2 at Thalian Interchange. Whereas, new alignment goes beyond motorway, loops around the Airport and turns towards Sangjani. 

Ring Road Scandal Inquiry Report

Following are some important points of the report:

  • The original ring road plan was about 40 KM long which connects GT road at Rawat to Thalian Interchange on Motorway M-2.
  • The Bank of China was willing to finance the cost of Ring Road but related Government officials didn’t proceed with that plan.
  • A new consultant “Zeeruk” was engaged which presented a revised plan of approximately 65 KM length and it included “Attock Loop” & “Paswal Zigzag”.
  • The original plan was extended unnecessarily only for the benefit of influential land owners and some “private housing schemes”.
  • The Commissioner Rawalpindi was involved in this entire process of change of alignment and influenced the change.
  • Private housing schemes made sales of billions of rupees in the name of Rawalpindi Ring Road.
  • The revised plan added about 25 billion rupees to the cost of the project which is additional burden on national exchequer.
  • Commissioner Rawalpindi started process of land purchase without prior approval of the plan.
  • Lands in Attock Loop and Paswal Zigzag were purchased in haste and at higher prices only to benefit local landowners who have political influence.
  • Commissioner Rawalpindi and Certain Government Officials have stakes/interests in private housing projects which benefit from Rawalpindi Ring Road.
  • FBR, FIA and NAB should investigate this matter further and probe private housing schemes to check Benami ownership of Present/Ex-Government Official, Public Office Holders.

Note: Attock loop is the area that starts from Murat Interchange at Motorway M-2, goes at the back of Airport and turns towards Fateh Jang Road. Paswal Zigzag is the area where Attock Loop makes an unusual curve towards Sagjani.

Attock Loop and Paswal Zigzag

As you can see on the map above, Attock Loop and Paswal Zigzag are marked in the alignment. 

We are attaching a copy of the inquiry report so that you can go through all findings and recommendations given in the report. It is important to mention here that the fact-finding committee comprised 3 members, but only one members, i.e. present commissioner Rawalpindi, signed the report. Other two members didn’t approve of the findings, hence didn’t sign the report.

Rawalpindi Ring Road Inquiry Report

After the report came out, there were rumors galore around the entire project. Social, Electronic and Print Media published reports and conducted programs over this issue and created so negative hype which painted an entirely dark picture of the future of Ring Road.

Recently, another powerful committee has been formed under Punjab Anti-Corruption Department which has seized all records of Rawalpindi Ring Road Project. This Committee has technical experts on board who will review change of alignment on technical grounds. The Government will take necessary actions after this committee submits its report in next 2 weeks.

We have been following the developments of Rawalpindi Ring Road since its inception and recommending investments in certain housing projects which benefit from this project, so it is imperative upon us to help our readers distinguish between facts and rumors.

 Facts

While predicting the future of Rawalpindi Ring Road, you have to keep certain facts in mind. Nowhere did the Government say that they are not going to construct the Ring Road. Once the project is thoroughly reviewed by financial and technical experts, things will be streamlined.

Following are some facts regarding the Ring Road Scandal:

  • Rawalpindi Ring Road is going to be the signature project of PTI Government and the Prime Minister is determined to completing this project within his tenure.
  • It is a very important project for Rawalpindi and cannot be further delayed.
  • There is no technical review available between old vs new plan which determines whether the old route is feasible or the new one.
  • There is no evidence of corruption so far, all allegations and counter-allegations.
  • Revised plan was presented in various government briefings in past one year.
  • Government had allocated funds for land purchase after the survey was completed.
  • Much of the required land for Ring Road has already been purchased.
  • Revised plan includes 9 special economic zones that would generate billions of rupees worth economic activity around the Ring Road while older plan is just a by-pass.
  • Ring Road plan up to Motorway M-2 has apparently no issues. Major issues arise over its extension at the back of New Islamabad Airport towards Sangjani, namely “Attock Loop” and “Paswal Zigzag”.
  • Housing Schemes did benefit from the change of alignment as they claimed access through Ring Road and sold thousands of plots.
  • This plan will be further improved after inquiry committee report and immediate implementation will start.

Rumors/Gossips

As there is hardly any authentic information available regarding all aspects of the project, some wrong information/rumors have started circulating in marketing about it. Some of the rumors are given as under:

  • Rawalpindi Ring Road has been delayed for indefinite period.
  • All alignments have been rejected and the Government will plan an entirely different alignment of Rawalpindi Ring Road.
  • All housing schemes along Rawalpindi Ring Road are fraud and they have looted billions from General Public.
  • Rawalpindi Ring Road is a mega corruption Scandal of PTI Government that will embroil many people at higher offices.

Possible Changes

As the Prime Minister has stated himself that Rawalpindi Ring Road is not stopped and the Government is going to resume construction very soon after the alignment is improved. There are certain possible changes in the Ring Road Plan which may be adopted in the final plan.

  • If NHA has no objection to shifting by-pass traffic to Motorway M-2 and making it a part of Ring Road, Attock Loop will be removed from the plan.
  • If we look at old plan, that connects Ring Road to Thalian Interchange. Whereas, the new plan connects Ring Road to Murat where a new interchange was proposed.
  • If the old plan is still feasible and special economic zones can be created around the interchanges, Ring Road will directly connect Rawat with Thalian Interchange.
  • Part of Motorway from M-2 Thalian Interchange to M-1 Sangjani Interchange will become part of Rawalpindi Ring Road.
  • From Sangjani Interchange, Ring Road will pass along D-18 and D-17 up to GT Road where it will connect Margalla Highway, i.e. Islamabad part of Rawalpindi Ring Road.

Following could be the possible alignment of Rawalpindi Ring Road:

Rawalpindi Ring Road Possible Alignment

We have drawn a possible alignment with shortest route to connect GT Road with Motorway M-2 at Thalian Interchange. This alignment is based on older proposal of Ring Road, which seems to serve the purpose at lowest cost. Economic Zones may be re-planned around this route along the marked interchanges.

Impact on Housing Schemes

Change of ring road alignment will affect few housing schemes negatively, however most of the schemes in old plan may still get the same advantages. The schemes lying in Attock loop area will be affected the most as they were depending heavily on Ring Road access.

We will explain the effect of change on alignment on housing schemes in another article, so you can follow our blogs for important information.

Conclusion

It is a fact that Rawalpindi Ring Road is the most important project of Twin Cities. It will open doors to new business opportunities in this region and also resolve the long standing traffic issues of Rawalpindi.

Whether new plan is followed or the old one, Government should look for the best route with maximum economic growth potential regardless of who benefits the most. The argument that some interest groups benefit from the alignment makes no sense, as some groups or landowners will ultimately benefit whichever route is followed.

General public and real estate investors have already invested billions of rupees in housing schemes as well as open land along the planned alignments of Ring Road, therefore it should not be delayed any further. Once the inquiry is completed and best route is determined by technical experts, bidding process should start immediately so that uncertainty over its future can come to end.

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