ISLAMABAD, Aug 7: It is a universal truth that ‘a healthy body has a healthy mind’. But not in our ‘Islamabad the beautiful’, it seems.

One has just to visit the gyms and libraries built in four heavily populated sectors of the city by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) “to benefit the local community” to find out the local truth.

Conceived by the then CDA chief Kamran Lashari in 2005, the public service project was executed by the Project Management Organisation (PMO) of CDA, and the gyms and libraries were ‘established’ in G-8/2, I-8, F-11 and I-10/2 by 2007.

You can’t believe in what shape they were ‘established’ unless you visit them and see with your own eyes.

A visit to the gym in G-8/2 showed its damaged weightlifting equipment rusting outside in the open.

A small concrete room, with a barred open area, was all that the gym had for a building.

Worse was the library. It did not even have a building – it was operating out of a steel container.

May be that was the reason that after their ‘establishment’, these facilities were not opened to public, or opened only selectively. Today, the facilities which cost Rs50 million, exist only a ghostly shadow of what they were meant to be.

A CDA official would only say that “these facilities are not open to all” but won’t explain why because he did not wish to be identified by name.

And no one can put the question to PMO because it was abolished by the latest former chairman of CDA, Syed Tahir Shahbaz, in March this year.A CDA land directorate official however confided to Dawn that the libraries project was a joint venture of the CDA and the Library Department, with the administrative support of the cabinet division. The CDA mainly invested the money in the project.

Irrespective of the shoddy affairs of the libraries, grade-15 and grade-16 librarians are employed for it is claimed the libraries “are fully functioning”.

Tayyab Tahir, a resident of G-8/2, told Dawn that the library-gym rose “before my eyes, opposite the National Institute of Rehabilitation and Medicine, but I have never seen them open to public”.

“Yes, I saw some CDA officials visiting the library now and then but never by a member of the local community,” added the Quaid-i-Azam University post-graduate student. “And so was the gym - out of reach to the local community.”

A senior officer of the CDA administration spoke of ‘the encroachment of the library-gym area in F-11 Markaz’ because of the gross neglect of the CDA staff.

However, the spokesman for the Capital Development Authority, Dr Naeem Rauf, assured that “CDA chairman Nadeem Hasan Asif is aware of the matter and senior management of the authority has taken notice in this regard.”

Member environment Ahsan Ali Mangi was instructed “to resolve the issue of libraries and gyms” – and he has.

“After receiving the chairman’s directions Mr Mangi has made these gyms and libraries fully operational for the public to enhance community participation,” the spokesman informed Dawn, declaring “so, we have not wasted public money at all.”

Hopefully, the communities of the four sectors blessed with the gym-library facilities would take heart, if not his words.

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