ISLAMABAD, April 1: In sheer violation of a Supreme Court ruling, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has converted a developed public park in I-8 sector into a parking space for the under-construction commercial building of the EOBI.

It may be recalled that in 2006, the apex court had cancelled a lease between the CDA and Shah Sharbeel for the construction of a mini-golf club on public park area –Juiblee Park in Sector F-7 Markaz.

The SC had ruled: “Admittedly a public park, if it is earmarked in a housing scheme, creates a right amongst the public… [to enter] the park without any obstacle, being a fundamental right enshrined in Article 26 read with Article 9 of the Constitution.

“It may be noted that the liberty of a person to have access to or utilise a right available to him cannot be taken away by converting such a facility into commercial one, for the purpose of extending benefit to a third person.”

An official in the civic agency told Dawn that the Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) had purchased two commercial plots in I-8 Markaz from the open market for the establishment of its commercial tower.

During the course of transferring the land from the private owners to the EOBI, the civic agency also curtailed the size of the public park, which was a football ground.

“The authority bypassed all legal concerns and allowed commercial parking activity free of cost to the EOBI in violation of the Islamabad Land Disposal Regulations (2005),” said the official, requesting not to be named because he was not allowed to talk on record.

A legal expert in the authority added that ILDR 2005 had declared parking space a commercial revenue-generation activity.

The official said the Islamabad Land Disposal Regulations 2005’s Clause 3(2) stated that “parking plazas fall in the category of commercial plots.

The plots for plazas could only be leased out through an open auction.”

Mumtaz Hussain, a resident of the I-8/2 sector, told Dawn: “The football park’s grills were removed within a span of one year and now a fully-fledged commercial activity is in progress there.

This shows the authority’s illegal favour to rich building developers.”

He added: “The CDA board and its senior management seem ignorant of the matter or they are not concerned.”

An official of the CDA building control department said all the activity was done originally to benefit the EOBI as the civic agency had curtailed the developed football ground.

He said it was a fact that already the number of available playgrounds and public parks in sector I-8 was very low compared to any other residential sectors.

The residents of I-8 had on numerous occasions approached the CDA for provision of additional grounds.

A financial wing official added that the authority faced double loss: first, it lost part of the land of the developed park and second, this parking space was given out to the EOBI instead of being auctioned.

“The building code was also violated since parking space was supposed to be in the basement of the building as per the ILDR 2005,” said the official. Despite repeated attempts, no official in the EOBI could be contacted for comments.

Meanwhile, CDA Chairman Syed Tahir Shahbaz when asked to comment on the matter maintained: “I have no clue about the issue however; in case of any violations of rules I will ensure cancellation of the parking area.”

“I will order an inquiry and if proved that there is a fault somewhere will redevelop the park in its original shape,” assured the chairman.

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