ISLAMABAD, March 22: As the civic agency of Islamabad fights its way out of the ongoing financial crunch, a 2010 Supreme Court decision may turn out to be a timely bailout for the authority as it is likely to convert the Rs1.2 billion Citizens Club in F-9 Park into a medical college.
The Supreme Court verdict shut down the civic agency’s dream of starting the commercial venture on a public land when it barred the authority from opening the Citizens Club.
Before the fabulous club could open its membership to the elites of Islamabad, the apex court upheld a citizen’s petition that public places like parks could not be used for commercial purposes.
Initiated by Kamran Lashari, a former chairman of the CDA, and designed by renowned architect Nayyar Ali Dada, the club complex boasts a 475-seat auditorium, library, conference halls, swimming pools, restaurants, fitness centres, squash and tennis courts, an aerobic area, a gymnasium, billiard, games room, banquet halls and residential rooms for the members.
Membership of the club was proposed to be divided among different classes proportionately – private citizens 62.5 per cent, government officers and parliamentarians 15 per cent, CDA officers 7.5 per cent and diplomats and corporate sector 15 per cent.
“The authority is planning to set up a medical college in the complex since the court had clearly mentioned in its verdict about initiating an educational institution there,” said a senior official of the authority requesting not to be named.
The Supreme Court in its judgment had said: “Instead of abandoning the project, the CDA, with the approval of the federal government, may utilise the building and other facilities for any public welfare project like a women university, medical/engineering college, science, technology or IT institution, etc.”
The judgment added: “This [Rs1.28 billion] huge amount belongs to no one else except the taxpayers/citizens.
Such amount, therefore, could have been spent appropriately for their welfare instead of providing luxurious type of a citizens’ club only to its members.
“We are not opposing establishment/construction of such clubs in the capital but definitely it should be at a suitable place without curtailing the rights of general public.”
It added: “CDA can undertake such projects not in the park but in any other area, ensuring at the same time the taxpayers’ money shall not be used for such purposes.”
An official of the agency added that the building in F-9 Park had turned out to be a ghost structure since the authority could not manage any fruitful benefit from it.
However, if the plan being prepared by the planning wing of the authority is approved by the CDA board, the project would help the agency in generating better funds.
The official said since there was only one Federal Medical and Dental College established in 2011 by the federal government, the CDA medical college would not only help the local students in getting medical education but also generate handsome funds by reserving about 100 seats for foreign students.
According to an official of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC), every medical college has a reserved quota for foreign students who pay their fees in foreign currency.
Talking to Dawn, CDA Chairman Syed Tahir Shahbaz said: “We will be working out a plan which could help us generate funds. We can look into the establishment of the medical college.”