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ISLAMABAD: Development projects worth Rs13 billion proposed by the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) have been included in the upcoming Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).

The MCI will receive around Rs4bn for development work from the approved 2018-19 fiscal year budget.

The MCI has proposed a number of development projects since its inception after the November 2015 local government elections but was not able to attract the federal government’s attention.

MCI will receive around Rs4bn for development work in 2018-19

“The approval for development projects in the next budget has been long overdue,” said I-9 union council chairman Sardar Mehtab, who held the bureaucracy responsible for the lack of funding in 2016-17 and 2017-18.

“Islamabad is a city of bureaucracy, and bureaucrats do not want to see a powerful local government set-up,” he said, adding that Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz and Chief Metropolitan Officer Najaf Iqbal had played the leading role in convincing the government to release funding.

Sources said the chief metropolitan officer – who served as the district coordination officer of Narowal, the home constituency of Planning Commission Minister Ahsan Iqbal, before joining the MCI – used his office to have development projects approved by the Planning Commission.

Among the approved projects are the Islamabad bus service, a beautification of Islamabad project, pavement construction, water supply, sanitation, access roads, the procurement of disaster management machinery and the procurement of sanitation machinery.

Projects to build a town hall, MCI House and union council chairmen’s offices have also been approved.

Mayor Aziz told Dawn that the inclusion of development projects in the PSDP was a big achievement. He said that it took over two years for the MCI to take off since it was a new organisation.

“Now, the people will get the fruits of local government, as several development schemes that are directly linked to the public have been approved,” he said.

Mr Iqbal confirmed that 13 development projects have been approved in the upcoming PSDP.

A Rs2.5bn project to set up a town hall and MCI House has been approved, for which the government will release Rs625 million in the upcoming fiscal year.

A project to beautify Islamabad with a total cost of Rs350m has also been approved, for which Rs150m will be released, and a mega-project to repair and construct pavements – worth Rs1.4bn – will receive Rs150m in the upcoming fiscal year as well.

The government will earmark Rs250m for the procurement of disaster management machinery, Rs400m for four sewage treatment plants in the Rawal Dam catchment area, Rs600m for water supply and Rs100m for union council offices.

The government has also decided to allocate Rs500m in the next fiscal year for the bus project, which has a total cost of Rs2.5bn.

MCI opposition leader Ali Awan, a candidate for the NA-53 seat, said the government did not own the local government for over two years and was approving development projects in election year, which could be a political gimmick.

“We will monitor these projects. We are not against development, rather, we have been demanding the government release funds for the last two years,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2018