Cabinet to decide fate of Citizen Club today

Published December 1, 2020
The building has facilities such as restaurants, indoor pool, gym, lobby, aerobic area and a fitness centre. — File photo
The building has facilities such as restaurants, indoor pool, gym, lobby, aerobic area and a fitness centre. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet will decide the fate of F-9 Citizen Club on Tuesday as the education ministry wants to set up a college in the building while the Capital Development Authority (CDA) says the premises is not meant for any educational institution.The club spreads over 22 acres with a 265,000 square-foot covered area and was built by the CDA at a cost of over Rs2 billion.

The matter is on the agenda of the cabinet meeting to be held with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair.

Designed by renowned architect Nayyar Ali Dada, the building has facilities such as restaurants, indoor pool, gym, lobby, aerobic area and a fitness centre.

Sources in the education ministry told Dawn that the building was ideal for an educational institution. After its completion a few years ago, the premises has been lying abandoned and the education ministry wanted to set up a state-of-the-art college in the building.

Education ministry wants to set up a college in the building while CDA says it is not meant for any educational institution

They said as per Supreme Court’s orders of 2010, the building could not be used as a club. Therefore, it should be handed over to the education ministry.

An official of the education ministry said they had requested the CDA for allowing the ministry to establish National College of Arts (NCA) in the building. However, a few days ago the CDA turned down the proposal, stating the building was not suitable for an educational institution.

The CDA through a letter dated Nov 5 stated: “It is to inform that Citizens Club building in F-9 Park has been purposely designed and constructed for indoor games and utilisation for club/sports activities. The club is going to be made functional in near future.”

It added: “This building is not suitable for any educational institutions,” adding the building’s layout did not have provisions for classrooms and other educational requirements. Furthermore, the land use of F-9 Park does not allow establishment of an educational in it.

It said the CDA does not support conversion of the club into an educational building located in a public park.

In 2010, when the club building was near completion the Supreme Court ruled: “As a huge amount has already been spent [on the club] the CDA, with the approval of the federal government, instead of abandoning the project may utilise the building and other facilities for any public welfare project like a women university, medical/engineering college, science, technology or IT institution.” Later, the CDA completed the construction work and the building is now is ready for occupancy.

In 2016, when the local government was formed in the capital, the club was devolved to the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI), which changed its name from Citizen Club to Metropolitan Club and also sought permission for proposals from interested firms to outsource the club.

But in 2018, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) took notice of the project, stating how the status of the Citizen Club was changed into a metropolitan club.

In the meanwhile, the MCI halted its plan of outsourcing the facility.

Recently, the federal government handed over the control of the environment wing and the club back to the CDA after taking it from the MCI.

According to officials of the environment wing, after taking control the CDA has started exploring options to use the club for the middle class as Islamabad Club, which is the only facility in the city, is beyond the reach of the middle and lower middle class.

They said the CDA had earmarked educational plots in every sector and there was no need for setting up a college in the club building built on the CDA land.

But officials in the education ministry said there was no weightage in the CDA claim that the club was purpose-built. They said with a little alteration, the building could be utilised for educational purposes.

A senior officer of the ministry of education said converting the underutilised building into an educational institution was the stated policy of the prime minster and the building should be handed over to the ministry.

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2020

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