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Wed 3 Dec 2008 07:02 AM

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MPs raise concerns over Bahrain mega-project

Parliament launches inquiry into progress of $2.6bn Northern Town development plan.

Bahraini MPs have launched an inquiry into a $2.6 billion residential project amid concerns about its lack of progress.

Parliament called for urgent action over the Northern Town plan, describing it as the last hope in tackling Bahrain's housing crisis.

Twenty-two MPs voted for the inquiry to go ahead, despite assurances from Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa that the project would not be delayed, Gulf Daily News reported on Wednesday.

They said they wanted information on the progress of work, as well as a committee to investigate rumours that some of the land on which government houses were due to be built had been earmarked for private development.

The government first unveiled the Northern Town plans in 2000 but people are still languishing on housing waiting lists dating back up to 15 years.

Original plans for the town include houses for 100,000 people, in addition to schools, universities, hospitals, public parks and other facilities.

MPs are also hoping the formation of a probe committee will speed up work on the project, which they were shocked to learn had not been included in the 2009-2010 national budget.

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