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LAHORE: The National Database and Registration Authority’s state of the art mega centre project in Lahore could not be kicked off despite acquiring the land eight months ago.

Nadra had acquired land on Agerton Road to build its first mega centre with a view to facilitate a quarter of the city’s population in getting ‘hassle-free’ computerised national identity cards (CNICs).

According to a source in the authority, Nadra paid more than Rs20 million in advance and had been paying over Rs2 million per month rent for the last eight or so months. But neither the construction work started nor any of the bidder company was short-listed for the purpose.

A Nadra official told Dawn the project would have been launched on time provided the contracting companies had not demanded higher rates. “In order to save the government money we have requested the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) to build the centre within three to four months,” he said, adding Nespak had also been engaged for its design.

The official further said it was not easy to acquire land on cheaper rates in areas like Agerton Road. “We have planned to develop four mega centres in Lahore to cater its population. We will close other Nadra centres in the areas where the mega centre is built,” he said.

According to the proposed plan, the mega centre will comprise one-hall building with one-window operation catering to the needs of more than 3,000 people daily. “The maximum time to complete the CNIC process at the state of the art mega centre will be 15 minutes,” the official claimed.

The Nadra has also planned mega centers in Islamabad and Karachi in the first phase. Later, such centres will also be built in Gujranwala, Sialkot, Bahwalpur, Faisalabad, Sargodha and Hyderabad.

At present, people in Lahore and elsewhere in the province are facing a great deal of inconvenience in getting their CNICs because of a cumbersome process at its small centres. These centres hardly cater 300 people amid worst suffocation, particularly during hot and humid season.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2016