ISLAMABAD - The Senate Standing Committee on Ports and Shipping has expressed concern over the slow development of Gwadar Port and said that no significant progress has been made so far in this regard. The Senate Standing Committee on Ports and Shipping was held under Chairperson Gulshan Saeed in the Parliament House on Monday. The committee has urged the Federal and Provincial authorities to redouble their efforts to ensure that Gwadar Port is made operationally efficient at the earliest as it would bring tremendous benefits and would be of great interest to Pakistan. This observation was made by the Chairperson of the Committee while reviewing the ongoing projects of National Highway Authority, WAPDA, CAA, Pakistan Railways and the plans being envisaged by the Ministry of Ports and Shipping to make the Gwadar Port fully operational. The Members of the Committee were of the view that the matter should be taken up at appropriate level and got resolved in the next ECC meeting. The Members of the Committee while having a briefing by the NHA were almost unanimously of the view that work on national highways providing connectivity to Gwadar Port in Balochistan was too slow and needs to be geared up. It was pointed out that the targets set forth by the NHA were too difficult to meet as one of the major contractors was not performing and giving due results. The Members of the Committee suggested that the contractor should be blacklisted and the penalty should be imposed on him, otherwise it would give an impression that NHA was giving protection to the defaulting contractor. Members of the Committee also expressed grave concern over the grant of land to the Housing Societies despite the fact that the Federal Cabinet had decided that as a sizeable land was required for the port, it would not be given to any other party/individual. Secretary Ministry of Ports and Shipping informed the Committee that the Port has been completed and operational. He informed the Committee that in order to give a boost to the operational activities at the Gwadar Port, it has been decided in the last ECC meeting that all wheat imported for Balochistan would be routed through Gwadar. He told the Committee that transshipment; transit trade and capital trade were the prerequisites for a port to be functional. He said that the port has been leased out to Port of Singapore and they are trying to bring business for the said port. It was told that the master plan of Gwadar Port has not been finalised so far. The representatives of the QESCO informed the Committee that electricity was available at the port and that it was capable of meeting future requirements of the Port too. Regarding the provision of drinking water, the Committee was told that a desalination plant of 100,000 gallon per day capacity has been installed by the Chinese, final payment has also been made to them and hopefully, the plant would be operational in two months' time. It was suggested that efforts be made to get water from near by dams like Shadi Kol and Basole. The Committee during a briefing by Pakistan Railways was told that Pakistan Railways in consultation with Balochistan government has finalised the route between Gwadar and Mastung and that the survey of the 900 km area has been completed. The representatives of the PR informed the Committee that an amount of Rs 450 million was deposited with Board of Revenue Quetta against their demand of  Rs 465 million as cost of land to be acquired in Gwadar city. Later on, EDO Revenue/Collector of Gwadar arbitrarily revised the cost to Rs 924 million. The Committee was informed that GDA wants that underground electricity supply should be carried out instead of overhead supply. This would increase the cost of project manifold. The Committee was told that Gwadar Port would be connected to Iran by December 2008. The Members of the Committee while underlying the need for construction of roads necessary for Gwadar Port on priority basis, pointed out that Bela, Karar, Karar, Wadh, Khuzdar, Rato Dero, Khuzdar and Shahdad Kot road were of poor quality and that NHA should take steps to expedite the work on Sehwan Sharif Rato Dero road. Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping, Qamar Zaman Kaira informed the Committee that the government was taking all out steps to ensure that the Gwadar Port is made operational by the end of this year and that next meeting of the ECC is being convened at Gwadar to sort out all the outstanding issues that have cropped up and to take on the spot decisions in consultation with the relevant Federal/Provincial authorities. He categorically assured the Committee that on the issue of connectivity, the development work on the port will not be discontinued. The meeting was attended, besides the Chairperson of the Committee Senator Gulshan Saeed and the Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Lt Gen (Retd) Javed Ashraf, Dr Muhammad Ali Brohi, Maulana Rahat Hussain, Saadia Abbasi and Dr Abdul Malik. Secretary Ministry of Ports and Shipping and senior functionaries of the NHA, CAA, WAPDA, Pakistan Railways and the Ministry of Ports and Shipping were also present.