CDA stops construction of boundary wall at temple’s site in Islamabad

Published July 4, 2020
Workers build a boundary wall at the temple’s site on Friday. They were stopped from constructing the wall by the CDA’s enforcement and building control departments later in the day. — White Star
Workers build a boundary wall at the temple’s site on Friday. They were stopped from constructing the wall by the CDA’s enforcement and building control departments later in the day. — White Star

ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) on Friday stopped construction of the boundary wall on the plot meant for the temple citing legal reasons, while the prime minister will direct the religious affairs ministry to forward the summary regarding allocation of grant for the worship place to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) for advice.

On the other hand, the religious affairs ministry clarified its position, stating that it only helped renovate places of worship belonging to religious minorities and did not build new ones.

This message was circulated by the Ministry of Religious Affairs on social media groups, including twitter.

On Friday, a joint team of the CDA’s enforcement and building control departments reached the site of the temple in H-9/2 and directed workers to stop constructing the boundary wall.

Summary for grant of allocation to be sent to CII for advice

The Hindu Panchayat Islamabad stopped the work and decided to approach the CDA on Monday to seek permission for commencing the construction.

“We abide by the rules but construction of a boundary wall was necessary as some people, backed by a few seminary students, had set up tents on the plot in 2018, and it took several months for us to get the place cleared with the help of the capital administration,” PTI MNA Lal Chand Malhi said.

Meanwhile, CDA spokesman Mazhar Hussain said the building control laws of the civic authority clearly stated that no activity could take place on a plot until the building plan (map) was approved.

However, a senior officer of CDA’s enforcement department acknowledged that it was possibly the first time that this clause had been enforced as all owners were allowed to construct boundary wall and ensure possession of their plot while formalities regarding approval of the map continue. Mr Malhi, on the other hand, said the Panchayat had submitted the building plan to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and the minister, Pir Noorul Haq Qadri, had forwarded it along with a summary for grant of Rs100 million to the prime minister for construction of the building.

The official system is that if the summary is approved by the prime minister, the building plan will be forwarded to the Ministry of Housing and Works and Pak PWD will submit the building plan to the relevant civic body, that is CDA. The finance ministry will then release the approved funds to Pak PWD for the construction.

Spokesman for the Ministry of Religious Affairs Mohammad Imran, however, said the summary for the issuance of grant for the construction had been forwarded to the prime minister.

“The prime minister will decide on the funds for the construction of a place of worship for the minority population,” the spokesman said, adding that “the prime minister will decide taking into account all social and religious aspects”.

The spokesman also said the government will seek guidance and advice from the Council of Islamic Ideology over the summary forwarded to the prime minister.

This demand was made on July 1 by clerics belonging to the JUI-F, Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith and those affiliated with Lal Masjid and other seminaries of the capital.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Religious Affairs, while replying to the objections raised by the clerics, clarified that the plot for the temple was allotted by CDA in 2017 on the directions of the National Commission for Human Rights and not the religious affairs ministry.

Responding to another allegation made by the clerics in their press conference on Thursday that the ministry was releasing funds for the temple’s construction, the spokesman clarified that “the ministry does not release funds for construction of minority places of worship; the Ministry of Religious Affairs repairs and renovates the places of worship belonging to the religious minorities.”

In the same statement, the ministry said the Hindu community was building the temple with its own resources on the plot allotted to them.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2020

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