ISLAMABAD: The Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) is facing Supreme Court’s questioning for its delay in installing sewage treatment plants on the tributaries of the Rawal Dam.
After last year’s suo motu notice taken by the apex court regarding contamination of the Rawal Dam, the MCI was supposed to install four sewage treatment plants on the tributaries of the dam.
Sources said recently the SC asked the local government about its failure to launch the project and sought reports from the directorates concerned by Dec 20.
The project was supposed to be funded by the CDA, the capital administration and the Punjab government. The sewage treatment plants would be set up at Bari Imam, Lower Shahdara, Upper Shahdara and Simly Dam Road.
MCI was supposed to start work on project after SC took suo motu notice last year
The sources said in the absence of any and check, Rawal Dam received untreated sewage from unplanned localities in the catchment areas that included the thickly-populated Bhara Kahu. The untreated water entering the dam contaminates it, posing a risk to aquatic life and the residents of Rawalpindi who are supplied water from the reservoir.
During a meeting headed by the chief commissioner Islamabad in March this year, it was decided that the MCI would execute the project. According to minutes of the meeting, the MCI would execute the project with financial support from the Punjab government.
The director of the agriculture external services briefed the meeting about the preparation of the PC-I, including directions from the apex court and the feasibility study carried out by a company.
“The chief officer MCI agreed to the proposal and expressed his commitment to take over the project under the umbrella of the MCI and asked the representatives of the government of Punjab for commitment about 36pc share of the PC-1 cost.”
The representatives of the Punjab government assured the meeting that they were ready to participate in the project and earmark funds in the annual development plan 2018-19.
It was decided that the provincial government would earmark Rs864 million as per its tentative share of 36pc in the PC-I.
The sources said following the meeting, the MCI took over the project and got it included in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2018-19 as an unapproved project.
The previous government of the PML-N had approved Rs 400 million for the ongoing fiscal year for the project but later the PTI government decided not to fund all unapproved projects of the MCI.
When contacted, Chief Metropolitan Officer Syed Najaf Iqbal told Dawn that there was no delay on part of the MCI.
“Recently, the SC also asked the MCI about this project and we informed the court that the project had been included in PSDP but funds are not being released.”
He said all concerned authorities had been directed to submit their replies at the next hearing.
Meanwhile, the Islamabad bus service project, which was added to the PSDP, is also facing uncertainty as the federal government has refused to release funds for it.
In the PSDP, the government had earmarked Rs500 million for this public welfare project.
According to the PC-I, the MCI would run the bus service with a fleet of 106 buses on six routes.
The capital city has been witnessing a signification increase in its population. It had a population of around 800,000 in 1998 which jumped to over two million in 2017. But, so far the capital does not have a public transport facility other than the Rawalpindi-Islamabad metro bus service.
The chief officer said whenever funds were released the MCI would start work on the project.
Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2018