ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) is considering different options on how to get a ban lifted on utility connections for unauthorised houses.Recently, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Energy directed the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) and the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines (SNGPL) to issue utility connections to all residents without requiring a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the CDA.

During the committee meeting, Iesco said because of a letter written by the CDA it had stopped issuing new connections without a NoC from the civic agency. However, the gas supply company said it was still providing new connections.

The committee said all the citizens had the right to get new connections and SNGPL, particularly Iesco, were bound to follow their regulators, not the CDA.

The committee directed Iesco to follow the guidelines of National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) which allowed connections for all without any NOC from the CDA.

A few years ago, the CDA in a bid to stop unauthorised construction had written to the service providing agencies not to provide new connections without its NoC.

NA body recently directed Iesco, SNGPL to issue utility connections to residents without permission from civic agency

The CDA took the step to discourage unauthorised construction but it did not take any action when the unauthorised constructions were in progress.

On the other hand, just because of the negligence of the CDA which failed to check illegal constructions, thousands of people in urban and rural areas have been facing difficulty in getting new connections for their already constructed houses.

“I do agree, because of the negligence of the CDA today citizens are suffering. Why the civic agency did not take action on time to stop unauthorised construction at the initial stage,” said an official of the CDA.

He said the federal cabinet on May 19, 2004, had imposed a ban on new connections without NOC from the CDA. The cabinet had stated: “Wapda, SNGPL, PTCL shall henceforth not provide connections in Zone-2, 3 and 4 (of Islamabad) unless an NOC has been obtained from CDA.”

Section 12(5) of the CDA Ordinance 1960 stated: “No planning or development scheme shall be prepared by any person or by any local body or agency except with the concurrence of the authority (CDA).”

Similarly, officials said, the Supreme Court while issuing a judgment in a case dated 24-4-2017, had ruled: “We also direct the electricity department and SNGPL not to provide electricity and gas connections respectively to any building which has not been sanctioned by the competent authority in accordance with law.”

In a case, the Islamabad High Court on Feb 7, 2017, declared: Therefore, CDA is directed that the affair of the society be examined on case to case basis. Every inhabitant of the society shall be called through notice. They be put offer for obtaining building plan by payment of requisite fee to the exchequer. On their willing technical wing of the building control of CDA shall examine every structure, its specifications and then shall approve it after observing all codal formalities in accordance with law. After such exercise and providing such facilities rest other connected issues of the normal utility facilities such as water, gas and electricity etc be re-examined and respective departments be approached to examine cases of those who have not got their utility connections by adopting legal course. The same shall also be legalised on a case to case basis.”

The officials said in the presence of these judgments of courts and the cabinet decision of 2004, the CDA could not backtrack from its stance. However, they said the civic agency was considering options to resolve the issue.

When contacted, CDA spokesperson Syed Safdar Ali said: “Standing committee on energy has issued instructions to Iesco to comply with directions of Nepra in such matters.” He said the CDA would have a policy on the matter within a couple of weeks.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2019