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ISLAMABAD: The issue of the overlapping boundary between Islamabad and Rawalpindi, which has been going on for many decades now, has yet to be resolved.

The issue has been taken up in several meetings between defence authorities in the garrison city and the Capital Development Authority (CDA) recently. It was also taken up in a meeting held on April 11 this year with Defence Secretary Lt Gen Zamirul Hassan Shah in the chair.

According to the minutes of this meeting, available with Dawn, the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) apprised those attending about the case and the decision taken in the last meeting. He explained the problems being faced by the RCB in the performance of its municipal functions in the affected area and its potential to trigger serious security issues for CDA, the Islamabad Capital Territory administration as well as the RCB.

The CEO also said that a mutual agreement was reached between CDA and RCB during a meeting in 2017, which the CDA members for planning and estate and the RCB CEO were also attending.

Resident along the boundary refuse to pay RCB taxes, saying their land was registered with Islamabad’s authorities

The minutes quote CDA Member Planning Asad Mehboob Kayani as saying that all stakeholders are on board and that the issue will be resolved soon.

The defence secretary said that though it has been principally agreed to resolve the issue amicably, modalities should be formed and the boundary issue should be finalised at the earliest.

Sources in the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) told Dawn that the defence ministry also attached a three-page brief on the overlapping of boundaries between the two cities.

According to the brief, the RCB was established in 1849 and its limits were defined by the Ministry of Defence vide gazette notification of 1957, which were re-published in 1981.

“Last survey of the Rawalpindi Cantonment were internally altered as a result of its bifurcation into Rawalpindi and Chaklala cantonments in 2003.

“In 1961 while shifting the capital from Karachi to Islamabad, the federal government, through an ordinance established CDA as an institution and municipal boundary limits of CDA were notified first time. In 1961 the boundaries of CDA transgressed into Rawalpindi Cantonment Board boundaries by default. On the other hand, according to provisions of Cantts Act, 1924 prior notification by federal government is mandatory to alter the limits/boundaries of any cantonment, whereas, in the instant case of RCB no such notification of federal government has been issued by CDA authorities,” read the brief of defence ministry.

It says the disputed area involved land measuring 2,509 acres approximately and that survey sheets for 1964, 1977, 1980 and 1985 held with RCB shows that this area should be part of the board’s jurisdiction.

The brief says that the overlapping has led to jurisdictional issues and the filing of court cases which are pending before the high court and district courts in Islamabad. All the litigants have challenged the municipal limit of RCB.

“They have pleaded before the courts that their titled sale deeds are registered with sub-registrar Islamabad, hence, they are not liable to pay taxes to get approval of building plans from RCB. This tendency is increasing day by day and adversely affecting the RCB’s exchequer,” the document says.

It said that under the ambiguous situation, RCB is suffering monetary loss. “Moreover, multiple administrative, security lapses and lack of writ is [affecting] the performance tremendously resulting in grave effects on the obligatory and discretionary functions entrusted upon the institution as municipal govt.

“Most pivotal aspect of the case is that local army authorities being the stakeholder in the matter are not willing to relinquish their right as the area is surrounded by sensitive army [installations], including CMT & SD Golra & EME College etc,” read the brief, which further added that in the prevailing security environment such sensitive military installations can’t allow, afford, to have mushrooming growth of multi-storeyed buildings in the vicinity.

When asked, CDA Member Planning Asad Mehboob Kayani said that several meetings have been held between the defence authorities and CDA in regards to the boundary issue.

However, he said there is no major boundary overlapping issue and that the RCB has rather been claiming that its land falls in various sectors of Islamabad including G-13 and G-14.

“We are working to resolve the issue amicably in accordance with rules and regulations,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2018