ISLAMABAD: Facing an unending delay due to bureaucratic wrangling, Planning Minister Asad Umar has called a single-point agenda meeting of the city managers to push for the speedy revision of Islamabad’s master plan on Monday (today).

Mr Umar, who is also the PTI MNA from Islamabad, is reported to have expressed concerns that the federal cabinet had directed in October to hire an international consultant for revision of the master plan but the consultant is yet to be hired.

“Yes, an important single-point agenda meeting on the master plan has been called by the planning minister on Monday,” said an officer of the Planning Commission.

The federal cabinet after approving an interim report had directed the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to hire an international consultant. But before hiring the consultant the cabinet directed to get the Request for Proposal (RFP) document vetted from the Planning Commission.

Despite federal cabinet’s direction in October, an international consultant is yet to be hired

Sources said the CDA board in December last year had forwarded the RFP to the Planning Commission but was still waiting to get a go-ahead from it.

“Following the federal cabinet’s decision, we forwarded the RFP document to the Planning Commission and are waiting to get its approval,” said CDA spokesperson Syed Safdar Ali.

Meanwhile, a senior officer of the CDA said that a few days ago unofficially the Planning Commission had discussed some objections regarding the proposed RFP with the civic agency.

“When they will share it with us officially we will respond them after addressing their queries/objections,” the officer said. He said the Planning Commission had also discussed the RFP with the Asian Development Bank.

In December 2018, the PTI government formed a commission of experts to comprehensively revise the capital’s master plan for the first time in its history

The commission prepared a draft report after a series of meetings that addressed some issues such as building by-laws, but left proper revision of the master plan to a professional consultancy firm that is to be hired by the CDA after getting approval of the RFP from the Planning Commission.

Initially, the commission was supposed to complete the task in six months. But after missing the deadline, the commission completed the first draft that was placed before the federal cabinet in October, 2019.

Islamabad’s master plan was prepared in 1960 and was supposed to be revised after every 20 years. But the successive governments did not bother to make proper revisions in accordance with the emerging needs. Over 40 selective changes were made without any consent of professional consultants.

“Though the federal cabinet is the competent forum to make changes to the master plan it should have been better if changes were made after getting input from professionals,” said an official of the CDA.

He said even the PTI government also made two changes last year: one for setting up of a university in the PM house and the other for changing 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, February 24th, 2020