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ISLAMABAD: According to Capital Development Authority (CDA) documents, the city’s managers have agreed to allow the construction of a portion of a road linking the Margalla Hills National Park with Haripur at Gokina.

However, when asked, mayor and CDA Chief Sheikh Ansar Aziz said no such decision was made and that the documents in question were a misunderstanding.

“Let me make it clear. I have withdrawn the letters [dated April 24 and May 16, 2017] and there is currently no plan for the construction of or giving the permission to construct new roads,” the mayor told Dawn on Sunday.

Mayor, on the other hand, claims he had withdrawn the approval granted by civic body last month

According to sources, some developers had purchased land in Haripur and now want to link Haripur with Gokina as the prices of land in Haripur on the Margalla Hills side will increase if the said link road is constructed.

The new proposed road will also benefit locals and will save them time in travelling.

Haripur is already linked with the Margalla Hills from Pir Sohawa Road but some developers want to construct a small road so their lands are better connected.

CDA officials Dawn spoke to said the area in which the developers have purchased land is part of the buffer zone of the Margalla Hills National Park on the Haripur side and is known as Reserved Forest 17.

A few years ago, the CDA also announced a controversial tunnel project to link Haripur with Islamabad but the project could not be executed due to strong opposition from environmentalists and the Supreme Court, where the CDA had to submit that it was not interested in the project any more.

According to sources in the CDA, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi has been requesting the CDA to construct the small road for many tears.

“I don’t know if the deputy speaker has his own properties there or if he is pleading the case of locals of the area, but it is clear he is pushing for getting permission from the CDA for the construction of the road,” a CDA official said.

Other officials also told Dawn that the mayor had given approval for the road on the request of the deputy speaker and that the decision was conveyed to Mr Abbasi through an official letter issued April 24.

And though the CDA granted permission for the road, it will not share the cost of constructing it since it falls outside its municipal limits and the funds will be arranged for by the sponsoring agency.

“As desired, cost estimate amounting to Rs 1, 380,181 for construction of Katacha Road from Haripur to Gokina Link Road, Islamabad has been prepared by MPO directorate of CDA, and approved by the Chairman, CDA as deposit work.

“The project falls outside the municipal limits of CDA. CDA is presently facing a financial crunch, therefore, is unable to finance this project.

The funds of the project will be arranged by the sponsoring agency.

Therefore, I am directed to request that the sponsoring agency may transfer funds amounting to Rs 1,380,181 [13 lac] to the CDA account, so that the project could be taken up as deposit work,” the letter dated April 24, 2017 reads.

The letter was issued by CDA Director Coordination Muhammad Qasim and was addressed to the deputy speaker.

Documents show the deputy speaker’s office submitted the required amount in the CDA’s accounts on May 4. A letter by the deputy speaker’s office issued May 4 says the required amount has been transferred to the CDA for the construction of the “three farlong katchi road” from Haripur to Gokina.

“The deputy speaker has desired that construction work may be started as early as possible under intimation to this office,” the letter says.

The deputy speaker could not be reached despite repeated attempts and being put on hold by his office staff for a long time.

Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz, on the other hand, said he did not give approval for the construction of the said road. Asked about the correspondence between the CDA and the office of the deputy speaker and which are available with Dawn, the mayor said: “The director coordination wrote the letter to the deputy speaker for the submission of the amount in the bank for the construction of the road without my approval. On my orders, the letter has been withdrawn and cancelled.”

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2017