ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has requested World Bank assistance of more than Rs 50 billion for the proposed infrastructure projects including 50 kilometers KP Economic Corridor (KPEC Peshawar –Torkham), it was learnt reliably here Tuesday.

The request was made during a meeting of the Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Reforms Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtyar with Country Director World Bank, Patchamuthu Illangovan. Secretary Planning Zafar Hasan, Secretary Economic Affairs Division Noor Ahmed, Member Infrastructure Malik Ahmed Khan and senior officials of the Ministry were also present in the meeting.

In the meeting with World Bank, funds weresought for the construction of KPEC, Green Punjab Project, and the construction of 26.5-kilometre-long Yellow Line project in Karachi, said the source.

The proposed four-lane expressway from Peshawar to Torkham (KP Economic Corridor) will cost around 450 million dollars and will be built on a new alignment and will be constructed as a dual highway facility with a 7.3-meter-wide carriageway on each side and 3.0-meter-wide treated shoulders. The Expressway will provide a reliable and safe driving environment with higher travelling speeds resulting in reductions in transit time and costs for regional and international trade goods using Peshawar Torkham Economic Corridor. The proposed expressway is an extension of the Karachi-Lahore-Islamabad Peshawar Trans-Pakistan Expressway System as well as part of the Peshawar-Kabul-Dushanbe Motorway. The is the first stage of the Corridor as in the second it will connected to Jalalabad while in third stage it will be extended to Kabul. The construction of KPEC will reduce the cost of travelling between Peshawar and Torkham by 40 percent and time by 50 percent, said the source.

However, the source said that instead of infrastructure projects the Bank is interested to fund projects in health, education, water and agriculture. Some projects which are in pipeline, including Karachi water and sanitation projects, will require conceptual clearance before its implementations.

Meanwhile, a statement issued here stated that the Planning minister said in the meeting that the present government is focusing on equitable development of marginalized regions of the country including Balochistan, South Punjab and merged districts of KPK, adding that the World Bank can extend cooperation towards this end.

Appreciating the contribution of World Bank in socio-economic development of Pakistan, the minister said that the government is devising a strategy to uplift the neglected areas of the country. He apprised that the government will accord priority to development of less developed regions in the upcoming 5 year plan. He said that the international lending institution could extend cooperation in this regard by financing various projects for these regions.

Makhdum Khusro said that the government will allocate resources for intermediate city development programme to develop new urban centres to mitigate migration pressures on big cities as well as expand regional growth centres.

Illangovan said that World Bank will continue to contribute to the development of Pakistan. He also gave a presentation on projects financed by the institution in collaboration with the federal as well as provincial governments.