The evasive dream of New Balakot City

The bitter memories of the horrible earthquake of eighth October 2005 continue to haunt all sections of civil society. Measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale, the earthquake struck at 08:50 in the morning. Pakistan and the adjoining region lie on the dangerous fault line, starting from Nepal, coming through Kashmir and reaching the KP. From time to time, the dangerous tectonic plates underneath the earth adjust them. Their movement can trigger horrific earthquakes. The seismological experts said that the same thing happened on the eighth of October 2005.

The tremor brought down the scenic Balakot. Entire families were shifted into makeshift tents. Ministers made tall promises to rebuild Balakot. The high-sounding bodies were formed like the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) and The Earthquake Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority (ERRA). However, even after 16 long years, not a single new brick has been bought. A few weeks back, the Supreme Court took notice of the delay. It called upon the top officials to rebuild at least the demolished schools for girls in the area.

Now the KP government has contacted the National Engineering Services Pakistan (NESPAK). Under the public-private partnership, the government has given the task of developing the New Balakot City (NBC) to this private limited company. It was back in 2007, that the former president General Pervez Musharraf laid the foundation stone of the New Balakot Housing Project. It was to be completed in 2012, but still, it is in the doldrums. We do hope that the public-private partnership with NESPAK will show some results, despite the temptations being thrown in the way of the earthquake survivors.