Despite decades, CDA fails to develop Islamabad's Blue Area beyond F-7

Published March 4, 2021
Construction work on a few commercial buildings is underway on the G-8/G-9 section of the Blue Area. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad
Construction work on a few commercial buildings is underway on the G-8/G-9 section of the Blue Area. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad

ISLAMABAD: The capital city is being developed without the growth of Blue Area, causing a shortage of space for business activities.

The city, which is supposed to be developed in accordance with its master plan prepared by Greek firm Doxiadis Associates in 1960, is facing several challenges in implementing it.

The master plan says the city’s residential sectors and central business district (CBD), which is commonly known as Blue Area, should grow side by side. But so far, the Blue Area could not see development beyond G-7 and F-7, though it is supposed to be expanded up to F-17 and I-17 sectors, which are last sectors.

Since its inception, the CDA fully developed the Blue Area along just two residential sectors – G-6, G-7 or F-6, F-7 up to Khyber Plaza.

The CDA auctioned a few dozen plots in the next three sectors up to G-9 and F-9 — this portion also houses signature Centaurus Mall — but development work has not been carried out. On the other hand, the residential sectors, which also face delay, have been constructed in bits and pieces up to G-14.

“Islamabad is dianopolis city, so with the growth of the city, its CBD should have also been developed,” said an engineer of CDA.

He said due to limited growth of Blue Area from D-Chowk to Khyber Plaza, parking has become a major issue.

“Due to shortage of spaces for business, would you believe currently, the rate of one square yard in Blue Area is Rs1.8 million,” he said.

Meanwhile, an official of CDA said that Blue Area starts from G-6 and F-6 sector and as per master plan, after reaching F-10, it moves toward northern side and then along the Khyaban-i-Iqbal it goes towards I-17 and F-17 sectors.

“The Blue Area should have been developed with a fast pace, but unfortunately, so far, CDA could not make any serious progress in this regard,” said President Islamabad Developer Association Chaudhry Naseer Ahmed.

He said that due to shortage of affordable space for business, multinational companies are now moving towards commercial areas of housing schemes.

Even in 2021, a large numberof sectors that included C-13, C-14, C-16, H-13, H-14, D-13, F-13, D-14, D-15, D-16, E-15 and E-16 are yet to see any development work.

The sectors E-12, I-12, C-15, and I-15 have yet to be developed but the current management has been focusing on them.

When contacted, CDA Chairman Amer Ali Ahmed agreed that CDB and residential sectors had not been developed in accordance with the need of the city. “I do agree, unfortunately CDA could not develop CDB with the growth of residential sectors,” he said.

He, however, said that now, he was focusing on their development.

“Last year, we successfully auctioned plots in G-9 portion of Blue Area, where development work is now in progress. While next month we are going to auction more plots in F-8 portion of Blue Area,” the Chairman said adding following the directive of the federal government, new bylaws were also framed to encourage construction of skyscrapers and vertical development in Blue Area.

Talking about the residential sectors, he said: “When I took over, the stalled sectors were a major issue. With the dedicated effort of my team, today, work is in full swing in sector I-15 and C-15 while partial work is also in progress in E-12. Soon we are going to award a contract for the development of I-12,” he said.

“With the completion of development work of these four sectors, the issue of shortage of affordable housing units in Islamabad will be resolved to a major extent as roughly 30,000 houses will be added to the available housing stock in the city,” he said.

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2021

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