Nov 12 - 18, 2007
In extreme Southwest of Pakistan on the world's busiest sea-route and at 60 kilometers long coastal strip, the city of Gwadar is situated. As the completion time of this 21st. century's port is coming closer, its importance is being highlighted with every sunrise. In future not only Pakistan but China, Afghanistan and Central Asian States will be dependant on this port for the entire sea-trade. The history of Gwadar and its surroundings is very old. Most of its area is unpopulated and desert like.
At the time of division of sub-continent in the year 1947, Gwadar and its neighboring areas were included in Qallat. In the year 1955 it was made a division of Makran and Gwadar was upgraded to a District of Makran. In the year 1970 at the time of One Unit's demolition, Balochistan was given a status of Province and Makran was awarded powers equivalent to the authorities of a District. In the year 1977, Makran was upgraded to Division and was divided into three Districts i.e. Turbat, Panjgor, and Gwadar.
Present Gwadar city is a small city of one hundred thousand people, surrounded by Arabian Sea from three sides and the sea breeze never stops here, that is why the name is awarded to this city as "The door of wind". "Gwa" means "Air" and "Dar" means the "Door". Besides the deep sea there are multiple rocks of sand which create a worth seeing scene especially at the time of sunset. Most of the population of this city makes their living on the catch of fish and the other needs of life are fulfilled through neighboring countries like Iran, Dubai and Muscat.
The plan to make Gwadar a modern port was made during the era of Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan, but due to lack of funds, country's internal and external politics and other International matters did not allow this plan to be executed. The fact was that whole world specially developed countries were interested to gain access to hot waters via Central Asian States full of natural resources. First of all USSR attempted to gain access and entered in Afghanistan but was forced to pull back by another great power USA. During the course of chaos in Afghanistan, China grabbed the opportunity and started putting foundation of Deep Sea Port Gwadar in collaboration with Pakistan. As Chinese came into city with 21st. century equipment, the fate of this poor city turned over and the area was declared as Tax-free zone. Investors from all over the country rushed to the city with billion of rupees to purchase land and the cost of piece of land shooted up to 100 to 150 times including rental shops. This turned local poor population into equivalent richer people as of Islamabad and other big cities of the country. Almost all unemployed persons started the business of land and property sale and purchase and became the property dealers where as the big investors from other areas of the country established different types of institutions and organizations.
Government of Pakistan constituted an organization named "Gwadar Development Authority" in 2003 to regularize and improve the irregular expansion and development of the city. In view of this it is very much expected that Gwadar city will merge into a developed International City and will attain the importance for trade not only for Balochistan but also for China, Afghanistan, Central Asian Countries like Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and other Russian States and as a result Pakistan will be beneficiary of the huge revenue through sea-trade activities.
Gwadar Development Authority (GDA) consists of a Chairman, a Director General and a Governing Body. The Governing Body constitutes of two Federal Ministers, one Provincial Minister, one District Nazim and an Additional Chief Secretary. According to GDA Master Plan, Gwadar city is equivalent to present Gwadar Taluka and its major roads will be 200 feet with four lanes each while on both sides of major road there will be 2/2 service lane. The name of main road of the city is Jinnah Avenue which is approximately 14 kilometers long. In the same manner Balochistan Broadway will also be 200 feet broad with service roads along side. The length of Balochistan Broadway will be 60 kilometers. The Coastal Highway alongside of sea will be similar to Jinnah Avenue and the length of it will be 24 kilometers. These roads will be of the standards as of many developed countries of Europe. Till today about 60 to 70 millions Pak.Rs. have been spent on development works and will increase with the passage of time.
The delay in development work is because of transporting raw material from different distant locations like sand is fetched from a distance of 135 kilometers, cement and steel are procured from a distance of 800 kilometers from Karachi.
At present Gwadar city is only 800 meters long and according to Master Plan, in near future, it will be 60 kilometers long and 40 kilometers wide. GDA has issued NOC to 30 plus schemes for Residential, Commercial and Industrial purposes uptil now where as there are only two Government Schemes:-
1. Sangar Housing Scheme which is 13 kilometers long and 4.5 kilometers wide on a sand rock within the sea waters.
2. New Town Scheme which will be divided into four phases pertaining to 120 yards- 2000 yards plots each.
Gwadar is not a Free Port rather is a Tax Free zone. GDA has issued NOC to private sector with a prior condition of self arrangements for drinking water by any means like de-sanitation plants etc. plus drainage and sewerage system keeping in mind that drainage does not pollute the sea waters and with the help of treatment plants and re-cycling plants, the resultant water may be utilized for green belts and public parks.
Presently Gwadar city is getting drinking water from Acra Dam which is sufficient for only 45,000 populations. It is not enough for 100,000 populations at all and which is increasing day by day. To meet the exigencies, work is in progress at Meerani Dam Plan.
Gwadar Port will be the deepest port in Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal and will be quite capable of handling large size cargo ships. The depth of the port will be 14.5 meters and will be quite broad and safe port. First phase of the port is complete which includes three berths and one ramp. The length of one berth is 600 meters which is capable of anchoring many large ships at a time. All the necessary equipment is erected at the site to make the port operational, but it will be possible and fruitful only when an 850 km. Motorway will be completed from Gwadar to Central Asian states via Chaman, Afghanistan and to China through Indus Highway & Silk Route.
* RESEARCH AND STORY BY IQRA ASSOCIATES*
MIR MAZHAR ALI MAGSI BALOCH
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