Successive govts made 43 changes to capital's master plan without experts’ input

Updated January 18, 2020

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The master plan of Islamabad 1960 witnessed 43 major amendments by successive governments without an input from any independent commission of experts, Dawn has learnt. — File
The master plan of Islamabad 1960 witnessed 43 major amendments by successive governments without an input from any independent commission of experts, Dawn has learnt. — File

ISLAMABAD: The master plan of Islamabad 1960 witnessed 43 major amendments by successive governments without an input from any independent commission of experts, Dawn has learnt.

The Greek Firm - Doxiadis Associates - which had prepared the master plan had recommended that it should be revised after every 20 years in accordance with the changing needs.

But instead of adopting a proper way to hire services of experts, successive governments made changes to the master plan.

However, the PTI government constituted a commission in December 2018 and now a consultant is being hired for making a revision.

“As per law, we can’t say that these amendments are illegal as cabinet is the supreme body to approve amendments. But a proper revision of the master plan should also be done to make changes in accordance with proper need,” said an officer of the CDA, who requested not to be named.

Documents show first amendment to the master plan was made in 1964 and the last in 2019

Documents show that the first amendment to the master plan was made in 1964 when the site for Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) was shifted from the national park area southeast of Rawal Lake to its present location.

In 1969, the alignment of the Central Business District, supposed to be developed along Jinnah Avenue, was changed for the development of F-10.

The Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) was to be established at Chak Shahzad near National Institute of Health but in 1974 its location was shifted to G-8.

The zoo-cum-botanical garden was to be set up south of Rawal Lake but its site was shifted to Banigala reserved forest southeast of Rawal Lake (originally reserved for QAU).

The original exhibition area of Islamabad was near Tarlai Kalan but it was shifted to south of Shakarparian near Faizabad in 1975.

Moreover, E-8, E-9 and E-10 were originally meant as residential sectors but in1973 they were designated for armed forces. Similarly, F-9 was a residential sector but it was converted into a park in 1969. Half of E-10 was reserved as a green area but in 1972 it was also designated for the armed forces.

According to the documents, E-11 was planned as a residential sector but the federal government in 1964 barred the CDA from acquiring the shrine there and with the promulgation of the ICT zoning regulations 1992 private parties were allowed to purchase and develop housing societies there.

Upper half of H series was designated as a green buffer and lower half reserved for special institutions but H-8’s half buffer was converted into institutions while H-9’s half buffer was converted into orchards and half buffer of H-10 and H-12 were reserved for setting up of universities in 1974.

Half of I-14, I-15 and I-16 were planned for industrial use and half for residential use but these sectors were converted into residential use in 1991.

Kashmir Highway was originally to be north of H-series but in 1998 its alignment was shifted further north in the sectoral area and G series while making a link road to the motorway.

Convention Centre and a five-star hotel were planned on right of way of Kashmir Highway through an amendment to the master plan in 1995 while a cement plant was allowed in Margalla Hill area in 1985.

In 1969, an industrial estate was planned for medium-scale industries on Kahuta Road which was originally a part of the rural periphery of Islamabad.

Similarly, in 1990, sector I-8, which was originally meant for transportation centre, was converted into residential sector while a part of I-8/4 was exempted from acquisition.

Zone II and Zone V were originally part of Islamabad rural periphery but in 1992 residential, institutional and industrial series 17 was identified and housing was allowed in the zones.

Zone IV which was a national park area was allowed in 2010 for farming, housing and institutional area. An amendment was also made to the alignment of Islamabad Highway which was meant to link to GT Road in the shape of ‘Y’. However, it was made a ‘T’ junction.

Originally, the width of Blue Area stretched from east to west and passed through sectors but it was straightened in the shape of a strip of equal width passing through F and G series up to F-9 and G-9. From F-10 it passes between F and E series.

The master plan also reserved an area for Loi Bher Dam but with the promulgation of zoning regulation 1992, it became a part of Zone IV and agro-farming was allowed there.

Similarly, in 2018, sector I-17, which was meant half for residential houses and half for industries, was reserved for setting up of a medial city.

In 2019, changes were also made to set up a university at PM House, which is originally located in administrative sector. The same year, another amendment was made to change the land use of Mauve Area of G-13, originally meant for government offices, to set up high-rise residential, office and commercial buildings.

Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2020