ISLAMABAD: Cabinet on Monday approved a revision of the capital’s master plan as well as a proposal torestructure the Capital Development Authority (CDA).
A meeting of the cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan approved an interim revision of the master plan that aims to revive the capital’s green image, control the mushrooming of unauthorised housing, overcome civic issues such as the water shortage and poor sanitation, and expand the city in a planned manner. However, the capital’s zoning regulations will remain unchanged.
The commission formed by the federal government to revise the master plan presented its report proposing various changes to cabinet and received its approval. The meeting was briefed on the proposals by commission members Nayyar Ali Dada and Ali Asghar Khan.
Sources said that CDA Chairman Amer Ali Ahmed also gave a presentation on restructuring the authority and proposed that government servants should not have a direct role in the CDA’s board.
They said the cabinet have the commission the go-ahead to make changes to enhance the capital’s green character and for urban regeneration, water scarcity and the implementation of by-laws.
Commission presented report recommending changes to revive green image, control unauthorised housing, overcome civic issues
The cabinet approved the commission’s recommendations to develop new parks, increase open spaces by decreasing buildings’ footprint areas and set up model villages and sewage treatment plants for rural areas.
The proposal to generate G-6 to increase commercial area from 97 kanals to 517 kanals, increase parks from 29 kanals to 82 kanals, increase public buildings and communal spaces from 556 to 700 kanals and build 16,515 new apartments on 1,297 kanals of existing residential areas was also approved.
The south eastern bypass and a ring road from Rawat to Bhara Kahu that would be 40 kilometres long and 600 feet wide, as well as link roads in zones II, IV and V of a combined length of 100km were also approved.
Cabinet has approved the proposal for a commission for the preservation of historic sites and to uncap tourism potential, such as the Mankiala Stupa, Buddha Caves, Sher Shah Suri Well, Gandhara culture, water sports, chairlifts and camping sites.
The commission’s report also said that four new parks patterned on F-9 Park would be made in rural Islamabad and one new park spread across two subsectors in H-16 would be established along the motorway in Zone I.
The report proposed hiring a consultant to carry out natural assets and cultural assets inventory and assessment through mapping and studies as well as demographic studies, demand forecasts under demographic scenarios, preference and acceptability studies, urban design guidelines and so on.
Sources said that the capital’s master plan would be properly revised in line with the consultant’s reports in the next two years.
The commission also proposed making Islamabad a ‘knowledge city’, as there are already 35 public and private universities established here. Software technology parks would be set up in zones IV and V, I-9 and I-10 industrial area would be transformed into a technology hub and educational activities would be promoted in zones IV and V.
The report also permitted greater height but reduced ground cover, to be applied across the board except for illegal structures. There will be no freedom of height in markaz areas or any changes in class three shopping areas.
The CDA will allow housing projects established on 20 to 200 kanals, sources said. Housing developments were previously barred on less than 400 kanals of land. The report also said that unregulated plotting in rural areas would be discouraged by reviewing land requirements for housing projects.
The report said the commission deliberated on katchi abadis and approved a thorough study before any concrete steps are taken. It said the commission devised a relocation plan for katchi abadis that needs further deliberation through a consultanht.
The Simly and Rawal lakes should be de-siltedfor interim relief from water scarcity issues, and work should be carried out on new reservoirs such as Shahdara and Chirrah.
For a long-term solution, the report said, water should be brought from Tarbela through the Ghazi Barotha Water Project, which would provide 200 million gallons of water per day to Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
On unauthorised construction that has already taken place in E-11, a commission member said building regulations in E-11 are contingent on studies.
Briefing the press after the cabinet meeting, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said: “The cabinet believes that the revised master plan will bring the CDA out of the status quo and it will come to the fore as a modern civic authority.”
She said a committee of experts prepared a 422-page revised master plan and proposed hiring experts from more sectors for its implementation.
Asked whether Prime Minister Imran Khan’s home in Banigala would be regularised under the revised master plan, Ms Awan said Mr Khan has presented himself before the Supreme Court in this matter and “whatever the SC will decide we will follow it”.
Restructuring the CDA
Sources said the CDA chairman gave a presentation before cabinet about restructuring the authority that was praised and approved by cabinet.
According to the proposal, there will be a nine member non-executive CDA board comprising five members from the private sector – one of whom will be the chairman – and four ex-officio members that include the Rawalpindi commissioner, the Islamabad deputy commissioner, CE housing authorityand CDA director general finance.
Under this proposal, the mayor would not be an ex-officio member of the authority. A managing director would also be hired to run the authority in place of the post of CDA vice chairman.
Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2019