Ban on utility connections in capital’s rural areas perturbs residents

Published October 27, 2020
Thousands of people living in the rural areas of Islamabad have been facing grave issues in getting new electricity and gas connections because of a ban imposed by the Capital Development Authority. — Dawn/File
Thousands of people living in the rural areas of Islamabad have been facing grave issues in getting new electricity and gas connections because of a ban imposed by the Capital Development Authority. — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: Thousands of people living in the rural areas of Islamabad have been facing grave issues in getting new electricity and gas connections because of a ban imposed by the Capital Development Authority (CDA).

In 2016, the civic agency approached the utility companies and linked the provision of new utility connections with its no-objection certificate (NOC).

However, Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) Ali Nawaz Awan told Dawn that the cabinet has formed a committee and directed it to finalise recommendations within 60 days to resolve the issue.

“The recommendations, which are yet to be finalised, will be placed before the cabinet and if need arises, the cabinet will file a case in Supreme Court with a request to lift the ban,” he said.

While the CDA does not issue NOC for houses built without approval of the building plans by it, it meant houses built in the entire rural areas could not get the NOC and hence remained without the electricity and gas connections.

Cabinet has formed committee to finalise recommendations to resolve the issue, says PM’s aide

The CDA linked the utility connections with its NOC citing Supreme Court orders.

The civic agency claims that in 2004, the then federal cabinet had also imposed a ban on new constructions, stating that new construction could not take place without approval of the CDA.

Sources said the CDA never took any step to implement the cabinet decision and from 2004 to 2016 a large number of houses were built in Islamabad without approval of the CDA.

When the matter was taken up by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and the Supreme Court in 2016-17, the CDA did not plead the case vigorously and failed to present any alternative solution to resolve issues of the public.

As a result, the courts directed the utility companies not to entertain applications for new connections for unauthorised buildings.

According to the CDA, all those buildings built without approval of their building plans by the civic agency are unauthorised.

In the above mentioned scenario, the owners of the buildings which had already been constructed are running from pillar to post to get utility connections.

Buildings, which were built after the decision, on private land in rural areas could not get the NOC, as according to the master plan of Islamabad construction is banned in certain areas such as Zone III. Therefore, the CDA did not approve their building plans.

“In the street where I live, all my neighbours have utility connections but I am being denied by Iesco and SNGPL. As a temporary arrangement, I have got unauthorised connections from my neighbour as without electricity and gas life is very difficult,” said a resident of Chatta Bakhtwar, who requested not be named.

CDA officials said the federal cabinet last month discussed the issue and formed a committee to propose a solution.

“After moving summary to the cabinet, our job is over. Now the matter is being discussed at a higher level,” said an officer of the CDA, who requested not to be named.

Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2020

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