ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Interior has directed the capital’s civic organisations to take steps to set up slaughterhouses and a food authority.

The committee, chaired by Senator Rehman Malik, discussed issues facing both the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) during its meeting on Monday. The senators said that in the absence of a slaughterhouse citizens are not being provided hygienic meat. The committee was informed that a site has already been allotted for a slaughterhouse but the PC-I for the project has not yet been approved.

In response, Senator Malik said no further delays would be tolerated in this project, which has already been delayed for years. He constituted a committee led by Senator Ateeq Shaikh that will meet with the CDA and MCI to begin construction work for a slaughterhouse. The committee initially gave the organisations two months to build a slaughterhouse.

Before the local government was formed, the slaughterhouse project was a priority for the CDA. In 2014, officials promised residents that construction would start soon on a state-of-the-art slaughterhouse, and in 2015 a CDA board meeting approved a site for the facility in I-11.

The PC-I for the project has not been approved so far, and sources in the CDA said that high-ups believe that with the formation of the local government it now falls to the MCI to bear the cost of the project, while the MCI does not have the money to do so.

Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz confirmed in the committee meeting that there is no slaughterhouse in the capital. He said local butchers used to use the Sihala slaughterhouse, which has now been closed, and now slaughter animals in their homes or at other private locations. The committee also discussed the proposed Islamabad Food Authority. Chief Commissioner Amer Ali Ahmad, who is also acting chairman of the CDA, said work is being done to complete legislation for such an authority, and there has been progress in this project.

The senators also recommended small picnic spots in the Margalla Hills for people who cannot go to Monal or other expensive picnic areas.

Senator Malik added that he had learned that the police were harassing people visiting Monal and other areas, and directed the Islamabad police not to disturb couples and families unnecessarily while on picnics.

The committee also directed the MCI to decide on the fate of the Citizen Club in F-9, which has been abandoned for years. Senator Javed Abbasi remarked that Islamabad Club is beyond the reach of the middle class, and other clubs are needed to facilitate the middle class.

Discussing progress on the administrative, financial and legal issues facing the MCI, senators recommended transferring the organisation all due funding. Funds should also be allocated to the MCI and CDA separately in the new budget, they said.

Since the local government was formed, 9,523 of the CDA’s 18,774 employees have been transferred to the MCI along with their directorates while 5,544 are working in directorates that have been partially devolved.

The CDA has retained 3,227 employees so far. The CDA is providing the MCI funding on a loan basis to pay employees and make other necessary development expenditure, as both the PML-N and PTI governments have not released funding for the MCI.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2019