ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication informed a parliamentary committee on Monday that encroachments remain on land allocated for an IT park in Chak Shahzad, delaying the project.

A ministry representative told a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on IT that although court cases against the park’s boundary wall have come to an end, there are still encroachments on the land.

“We have to complete the project by June 30, and we have informed the Capital Development Authority (CDA) that we do not have time,” the representative said. The committee met for a briefing on the boundary wall on the site of the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) to establish an IT park.

NA body to write to CDA asking it to cooperate in establishment of IT park

IT Secretary Maroof Afzal said that 81pc of the construction has been completed already, and sites have been identified across the country for IT parks. A survey will be carried out next year for construction.

The PSEB informed the committee that 14 private IT parks are functional in the country.

The ministry also claimed that the CDA was not cooperating and asked the committee to intervene to ensure the project is completed. The committee decided to write to the CDA asking that it cooperate with the ministry so the project is completed soon.

The ministry also said that negotiations have begun with a Korean bank, and that it has been suggested to establish a taskforce that specialises in IT parks.

Committee chair MNA Ali Khan Jadoon suggested that land belonging to the Telephone Industries of Pakistan (TIP) in Haripur should be allocated for an IT park. However, IT Minister Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said that TIP has been included in the list of companies that will soon be privatised.

The minister vowed to establish IT parks in other provinces with the help of their respective governments.

It was decided in 2017 that an IT park would be built in the capital on around 48 acres of land.

It was claimed at the time that funding would come from the Korean Eximbank through the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF); the estimated cost for the first phase of the project was around $88 million.

Software technology parks are considered a major factor in facilitating IT companies and play an important role in developing the IT industry.

The committee also visited the second and third floors of the Evacuee Trust Building and received briefings from companies such as Bentley Systems, Touchstone, Ciklum and the office of the PESB. The committee then visited the IT park on Kuri Road, Chak Shahzad, and directed for the project to be completed in the stipulated timeframe.

The committee also observed a minute’s silence earlier in the meeting in solidarity with the families of those who died in terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter.

Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2019