Civic bodies fight over parking lot

RAWALPINDI, Aug 28: A 145 years old office site of defunct Rawalpindi Municipal Office (RMC) has become a bone of contention between Punjab Board of Revenue and Rawal Town Municipal Administration (RTMA) as the latter wanted to construct a Parking Plaza and the former demanded one billion rupees to handover the property.

The land measuring 3 kanals and 10 marlas housed municipal corporation offices from 1867 to 2002, till the change of local government system in which former military dictator General (retired) Pervez Musharraf tenure.

After the change of local government system, the municipal corporation divided into   two towns Potohar and Rawal.

The Rawal Town Municipal Administration (RTMA) offices had been shifted to new complex in 2004 and its former offices on land measuring 3 kanals and 10 marlas had been lying vacant for the last eight years.

At present, the Suzuki and wagon stand was operating at the site and RTMA collecting parking fee from Suzuki and Wagons to the tune of Rs4.5 million per annum.

In September 2010, Punjab government tried to sell RMC land and other adjoining lands, including Rawalpindi Tehsil offices (14 kanals) and CIA police’s office commonly known as Kotawali (10 kanals).

But failed due to poor response from the investors as nobody was willing to purchase the land.

In the meantime, the traders and RTMA suggested to the provincial government to construct a parking plaza at the site to cater for parking in and around the Raja Bazaar area.

In March 3, 2012, Punjab Chief Minister gave principal approval to the project and asked the RTMA to start the work.

The request was made by MNA Malik Shakil Awan and traders association members. The RTMA requested Punjab Board of Revenue to transfer the land in the name of the civic body so that it would start the project under private-public partnership.

On December 2011, it sent a letter to the board of revenue for getting possession of the land but the department replied after seven months. The RTMA received the reply on Monday.

The Board of Revenue asked RTMA to submit Rs1.5 billion, as price for the land, if it was interested to get back the land.

According to the letter, the RTMA will have to buy the land at the cost of Rs4.5 million per marla plus taxes.

In response to the letter, Rawal Town Administrator also replied immediately that the land was in possession of municipality from 1867 to 1926 and transferred to the provincial government in 1927 but like other government departments, the land was in possession of defunct RMC till 2002. He said that the RTMA had right to utilise the land while changing the purpose.

When contacted, Rawal Town Administrator Saif Anwar Jappa said that RTMA would contact Punjab Chief Minister to solve the matter as the land belonged to RTMA and it wanted to construct the parking plaza.

He said that it was also not possible for the town administration to pay the heavy price of the land. He said that the parking plaza was a public welfare project and would be launched on the instructions of Punjab Chief Minister.

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