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High-rise buildings to replace katchi abadis in capital

Updated March 01, 2019

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Federal cabinet approves high-rise in Islamabad.— Reuters/file
Federal cabinet approves high-rise in Islamabad.— Reuters/file

ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has started work on the transformation of katchi abadis in the capital city.

If all goes as planned, high-rise buildings will replace the slums in the city.

Sources in the civic agency said Prime Minister Imran Khan at a meeting held on Feb 12 directed CDA Chairman Amir Ali Ahmed to prepare a plan for “the regeneration and transformation of katchi abadis and construction of high-rise buildings there.”

They said the CDA chairman was directed to prepare a plan as soon as possible. Following the meeting, Additional Secretary Dr Kazim Niaz at Prime Minister Office wrote to the CDA head to submit the plan soon.

“On the directive of the prime minister, we have started work to complete the regeneration plan to build high-rise buildings in place of katchi abadis. We will accommodate the existing slum dwellers in the high-rise buildings on a priority and sell the remaining developed areas,” said CDA spokesman Syed Safdar Ali.

Federal cabinet approves high-rise in Islamabad

He said a pilot project would be launched from F-7 France Colony. “In the first phase, our focus will be France Colony and 100 Quarters F-6 Colony,” he added.

Sources said the prime minister was keen to provide small planned houses to slum dwellers at places where they were currently living.

“It is our stated policy not to demolish slums as this step will deprive poor segment of society of their shelters. We are going for a solution. On the directive of the premier, CDA is preparing a plan to settle the slum dwellers at their existing locations,” said Special Adviser to Prime Minister on CDA Affairs MNA Ali Awan.

He said besides focusing on the Turkish model of regeneration of slums, “We are looking into Sri Lankan model.”

CDA officials said the Turkish government in the past resolved the issue of informal settlements.

The Ankara model is considered as one of the best solutions and the CDA would follow it.

They said urban regeneration was an efficient tool to regenerate slums and illegal settlements as with a little effort the unplanned settlements could be provided best housing facilities in high-rise buildings.

“This is an ideal deal for us. If all goes as planned, we will not only provide best accommodation to the poor in the shape of apartments but will also generate revenues amounting to billions of rupees,” said an engineer working with the CDA.

He said France Colony and 100 Quarters Colony were among the so-called legitimate slums in the capital but these were as bad as the illegal settlements when it came to provision of basic facilities.

Out of the over 50 irregular settlements in the capital, the civic agency has given the legal and regularised status to 10.

But residents of these slums are also deprived of basic necessities such as proper footpaths, streets, sewerage system etc.

The officials said the civic agency had been directed not to demolish any old slums as the government wanted to come up with a proper solution to resolve the issue for good.

Meanwhile, the federal cabinet approved Prime Minister Imran Khan’s initiative of permitting construction of high-rise buildings in the federal capital.

“The prime minister told the cabinet that vertical structure was need of the hour in view of increased population and fast depleting greenbelts, especially in major cities of the country. In turn, the cabinet ratified the same,” said a handout issued after the cabinet meeting.

Recently, the prime minister directed the CDA and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to encourage high-rise buildings.

He directed the CDA chairman to revise the bylaws on height restriction for new and existing buildings to vertically expand the city and preserve green areas, generate commercial activity and attract overseas investors.

Earlier, the CDA used to encourage horizontal construction as a maximum height permission extended to a building was 420 feet.

However, after the prime minister’s recent directive the CDA held a meeting with CAA and both the agencies agreed to okay high-rise buildings in the eight kilometres Blue Area from D-Chowk to F-10 Markaz.

Sources said the CDA was in favour of allowing 1,000ft height in the area but a final decision was yet to be taken by the CAA.

The sources said the CAA told the civic agency that there was no restriction of height in Zone III and some parts of Zone IV which fall outside the 15km radius of the two airports.

“Our meeting remained very positive as CDA and CAA are on the same page to encourage vertical construction. But before finalising this matter, the CAA will have to make some changes to its rules and regulations and they are working on it,” said an officer of the CDA.

He said after CAA’s input, the CDA would revise its bylaws.

Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2019