By Shabbir Mir
GILGIT: The government in Gilgit-Baltistan has plans to construct a bulk depot in Gilgit to store grains so it can be used in times of crisis, Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman said on Tuesday.
Rehman’s remarks came during the proceedings of G-B Legislative Assembly that convened for the first time after the region faced an acute shortage of supplies. The shortage lasted for over two weeks when Karakoram Highway — linking G-B to rest of the country — was cut off at several places by landslides triggered by rains.
“We will construct a depot that will have the capacity for 10,000 bags,” Rehman told the house chaired by Speaker Fida Muhammad Nashad.
The chief minister added an alternative route, Babusar Highway, would be constructed soon to ensure G-B remains connected with the rest of the country in case KKH is inaccessible.
“The federal government has allocated Rs82 billion for it and the project is reflected in the Public Sector Development Programme 2016-17,” the CM maintained.
He said steps were also being taken to enhance the storage capacity for petroleum products in G-B.
Rehman said the strategically important Jaglot-Skardu Road would also be upgraded during his government’s tenure, adding the tender process was complete. About Gilgit-Chitral road project, the CM said the federal government agreed to provide Rs1 billion each to G-B and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa for the construction of a highway in their respective territories.
As the proceedings started earlier in the day, opposition lawmakers walked out in protest against the arrest of lawmaker Muhammad Shafi. Shafi, who is a senior leader of Islami Tehreek Pakistan, was arrested recently and booked under the anti-terrorism act for beating an administrator during the distribution of relief items in Gilgit. He was also accused of snatching a vehicle laden with relief goods.
Deputy Speaker Jafaullah Khan managed to bring the lawmakers back soon afterwards. The house constituted a committee to look into the matter.
The proceedings were adjourned till Wednesday (today).
Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2016.