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Temporary licences to use state land for commercial purposes cancelled

Updated May 20, 2019

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CDA officials Dawn spoke to say they have not received any official letter in this regard so far.  — DawnNewsTV/File
CDA officials Dawn spoke to say they have not received any official letter in this regard so far. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: The Directorate of Municipal Administration (DMA) has cancelled all temporary licences issued to businesspeople allowing state land to be used for commercial purposes.

The Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) directorate cancelled the licences in response to a recent letter from the Capital Development Authority (CDA) in which the authority had said that its land was being used by businesspeople on the basis of permission granted by the DMA.

The letter, sent by CDA Director Building Control Faisal Naeem, added: “Without permission of planning wing, DMA could not issue licences for using CDA land, but we noticed a large number of people had been running business on CDA land in the name of open sit-in, beautification, kiosks, open spaces etc, but for granting such permissions, planning wing was not consulted.”

CDA writes to Directorate of Municipal Administration, saying such licences could not be issued without planning wing’s permission

The DMA therefore cancelled all such licences on Friday. DMA Director Shafi Marwat confirmed the cancellations, saying: “Yes, we have withdrawn all such permission which had been issued without the permission of CDA’s planning wing.”

However, CDA officials Dawn spoke to said that they have not received any official letter in this regard so far.

The DMA has granted many licences over the last few years to use green areas in the name of open spaces. Sources said that licences have been granted to use CDA land in almost all commercial centres, particularly those in F-6, F-7, F-8 and F-10.

Sources in the planning wing said that in most of these cases, the DMA did not consult the planning wing.

An official from the planning wing said the directorate only referred cases to the wing that they did not want to grant permission to.

“Otherwise, they issued licences on their own, bypassing the CDA.”On the other hand, Mr Marwat said he has not granted any temporary licences in his tenure.

“I can’t say anything about what has happened in the past. But when the matter came to my notice, I withdrew all such permission,” he said.

Sources in the directorate said it seemed that permission for open spaces was given with mala fide intentions.

“The National Accountability Bureau and Federal Investigation Agency should investigate this entire issue. It is not a simple matter of withdrawing all temporary permission; why was the planning wing bypassed? It seems like a mega corruption scandal,” a DMA official who asked not to be named said.

Sources said the last 10 years of DMA affairs need to be audited, with special attention on temporary permissions, outdoor advertising and parking areas.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2019