Body to discuss lifting ban on utility connections in capital

Published November 30, 2020
A high-powered committee formed by the federal cabinet is going to meet on Thursday (Dec 3) to look into public issues arising out of the ban on utility connections in Islamabad. — Dawn/File
A high-powered committee formed by the federal cabinet is going to meet on Thursday (Dec 3) to look into public issues arising out of the ban on utility connections in Islamabad. — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: A high-powered committee formed by the federal cabinet is going to meet on Thursday (Dec 3) to look into public issues arising out of the ban on utility connections in Islamabad.

Headed by Federal Minister for Law Dr Mohammad Farogh Naseem, the committee will get the points of view of all stakeholders, including the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and power utility companies.According to the meeting notice, CDA officers not below the rank of BS-20 should attend the meeting. The committee was formed by the government in September and tasked with finalising its recommendations in 60 days.

Sources said the government wants to lift the ban on utility connections and once recommendations of the committee are received, it will take up the issue again.

Led by law minister, committee was formed in September to come up with recommendations in 60 days

Speaking to Dawn recently, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on CDA Affairs Ali Nawaz Awan said the ban was imposed during the PML-N tenure. He said residents of rural area of Islamabad were unable to get utility connections because of the ban. He said in 2016-17 the Supreme Court on the basis of an earlier ban imposed by the previous cabinet had ruled that no utility connection should be issued without approval of building plans by the CDA.

But the CDA never passed building plans beyond the sectoral areas, thus the residents of rural Islamabad built their houses on their land without approval of their building plans and now because of the ban they are unable to get utility connections.

Mr Awan said once the issue is decided by the cabinet, the government could file a petition in the Supreme Court requesting it to allow utility connections in the rural area at least for those houses which have already been built.

The CDA officials said that in 2004 the federal cabinet had decided that construction could not be taken place in Islamabad without a no- objection certificate (NOC) from the CDA.

However, the CDA never passed building plans beyond the sectoral area (urban area) and also did not take any serious action to halt construction in rural areas in the light of cabinet’s decision of 2004. Even, large numbers of high-rise building were built in E-11 without approval of building plans. However, in 2016-17, when unauthorised construction had already taken place in a large area of the capital, the on the basis on the Supreme Court orders wrote to the power utility companies not to issue any connections without the NOC.

Sources in the CDA said all three MNAs from Islamabad - Asad Umar, Ali Nawaz Awan and Khuram Nawaz of the ruling PTI - wanted to get the ban lifted due to the public pressure.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2020

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