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ISLAMABAD: The federal government seems least bothered to resolve civic issues of the capital city as for the first time in the history of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) the post of its chairman is lying vacant for the last 25 days bringing the working of the civic agency to a standstill.

The CDA, which has resources and formations, does not have its head to supervise development and civil works while the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) does not have the budget and powers to execute any project.

“It seems the government does not have any interest in the issues of the local residents. The MCI and the local government have been kept ineffective for over two years and now the CDA is headless for weeks,” said an official who requested not to be named.

Islamabad Highway expansion project almost stalled, CDA’s engineering wing unable to obtain funds

On Dec 29, the Islamabad High Court declared Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz’s appointment as the acting chairman CDA illegal. Since his departure from the CDA, the government has not made his replacement.

Sources in the CDA said most important works had halted as it was only the chairman who could approve finances for mega projects and take key policy decisions.

The sources said the ongoing expansion of Islamabad Highway was badly affected as the engineering wing of the authority was unable to get funds for the sanctioned project.

After completing the Sohan interchange, the contractor is constructing the Khana interchange but the civic agency despite having funds is unable to make payments to him.

An official in the engineering wing said March 23 was fixed as the deadline for completing the interchange but due to the stoppage of payments to the contractor, the work had slowed down.

“I don’t think we will meet the March 23 deadline as work has slowed down significantly,” said an engineer of the CDA, who also requested not to be named.

An official of the planning wing said without the chairman, the CDA board, the decision-making forum, cannot hold a meeting. “We recently proposed bylaws for regulating marriage halls and Banigala area but the approval of the board is required,” said a town planner. Similarly, files of estate wing are also piling up.

There were reports that one of the members of the CDA would be made the acting chairman but a recent amendment to the CDA Ordinance 1960 by the federal cabinet and subsequent presidential ordinance stated that amongst the members, only a civil servant could be appointed as the chairman.

This ended the chances of appointing the senior most members of the authority, who are not civil servants such as Member Engineering Shahid Sohail and Member Planning Asad Mehboob Kayani, as the chairman.

When contacted, CDA spokesman Malik Saleem agreed that official business was disrupted in the absence of the chairman.

In reply to a question, he said: “During my over 30-year service, I have not seen such a situation.”

The IHC had given 45 days to the government to appoint the CDA on a regular basis after adopting the due process.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2018