Islamabad: The government revised on Wednesday the cost of Islamabad Safe City project pushing it up by one-third to Rs15.9 billion. In addition to this, it approved a scheme of the Pakistan Railways for transporting six million tons of coal from Karachi to power plants in Punjab.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec), in its meeting chaired by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, approved the revised cost for the safe city project and the procurement and manufacturing of 585 railway wagons and 20 bogies for coal transportation.
The safe city project cost has gone up almost 34% after the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) refused to exempt the imported equipment from taxes, taking the cost up to Rs15.9 billion. The cost was earlier estimated at Rs11.9 billion.
The hi-tech equipment for the project has already been brought and most of it has been installed at key entry and exit points of the metropolitan city. However despite the installation, the Ministry of Interior has not yet started using it.
The FBR did not grant tax exemption as the government was pursuing a policy of discouraging exemptions, said the Ministry of Finance. The sponsoring ministry, therefore, revised the project cost to include taxes and duties, it added. It was emphasised that there was no cost increase in any of the physical component of the project.
The project, which is nearing completion, involves building physical infrastructure and allied facilities to protect citizens and their properties from security threats and acts of terror.
The project, initially planned to be implemented in the federal capital, will create an effective and adequate security framework by incorporating strategies to prevent unauthorised access of vehicles and individuals entering or operating within the capital territory, said the finance ministry.
It will also strengthen the law enforcement agencies with the support of state-of-the-art technologies including cameras and integration of multiple national databases of vehicles and individuals with centralised control rooms to monitor the situation aimed at averting untoward incidents, it added.
CCTV cameras and RFID tag readers are being installed at key points across the city for monitoring and control system. The project would equip law enforcement agencies with a computer-aided dispatch system and other software such as facial recognition and vehicle management system.
About 1,950 surveillance cameras are being installed and a bombproof command centre is being built over 2,000 square metres.
The project was approved by the previous PPP government. However, it was challenged in the Supreme Court.
Ecnec also approved the proposal of the Ministry of Railways for procurement and manufacturing of 585 wagons and 20 bogie brake vans for coal transportation at a total cost of Rs5.9 billion. The project would enable the Pakistan Railways to meet the demand for transportation of six million tons of coal from Karachi Port to upcountry for coal-fired power plants.
Read : Multi-billion rupee Safe City project picked up again