Revision of Islamabad’s master plan faces inordinate delay

Published March 22, 2021
The revision of Islamabad’s master plan is facing an inordinate delay as so far the civic agency has failed to hire a consultant firm for carrying out the task. — INP/File
The revision of Islamabad’s master plan is facing an inordinate delay as so far the civic agency has failed to hire a consultant firm for carrying out the task. — INP/File

ISLAMABAD: The revision of Islamabad’s master plan is facing an inordinate delay as so far the civic agency has failed to hire a consultant firm for carrying out the task.

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) did not receive bids from renowned international firms in response to its public notice. However, a consortium of four consultant firms having 11 companies submitted their bids.

However, none of them fulfilled the criteria advertised by the CDA. As a result, a technical committee of the CDA a few months ago recommended not to accept the bids of these companies as they lacked the required experience.

Subsequently, the issue was placed before the CDA board last month which decided to consult the Planning Commission. The commission, on the direction of the federal cabinet, vetted the terms of reference of the Request for Proposal (RFP) document for hiring the consultant.

CDA committee recommended not to open technical bids of consortium

The RFP was prepared by a commission formed by the federal cabinet for revision of the master plan. After proposing changes to the bylaws mainly related to commercial buildings through an interim report, the commission decided that a proper revision of the master plan would be conducted by a consultant.

In the light of the commission’s interim report, the issue of high-rise buildings was resolved as it encouraged vertical construction.

The interim report of the commission also resolved the issue of unauthorised houses in certain areas, including Banigala, where Prime Minister Imran Khan’s house was also regularised.

Sources said the CDA board last month did not take any final decision on rejecting or accepting the bids of the consortium of four companies rather decided to consult the Planning Commission.

The sources said the Planning Commission formed a committee which deliberated upon the issue but is yet to take a final decision.

“This issue should be decided on priority because due to non-revision of the master plan, thousands of people are suffering,” said an officer of the CDA.

He said that the master plan was finalised in 1960 and it was supposed to be revised in accordance with the need of time but the successive governments never made any serious effort to revise the blueprint of the city.

However, the sources said successive governments kept making selective changes to the master plan without any revision and study by a professional consultant.

So far, 42 major changes have been made due to which today, the city is facing a number of planning issues. The sources said Zone IV was not meant for housing societies but later housing societies were allowed to operate in the zone, compromising on the green areas of the city.

Similarly, the successive government also failed to properly implement the master plan of 1960 prepared by Greek firms Doxiadis Associates. For example, the sources said, Doxiadis had recommended that by 80s the CDA should develop housing sectors up to the G.T. Road but so far the civic agency could not move beyond F-11 and I-14. Several industrial sectors were converted into residential. The sources said markets and government houses built in the 60s and 70s violated the master plan.

“For example, as per design and master plan of sector G-7, Al Habib Market was an indoor covered market, but today shops are being opened towards the nearest houses.”

Similarly, owners of most of the single-storey government houses in G-6 and G-7 have now constructed illegal double storeys.

Above all, due to lack of regulatory check, bylaws and planning solutions, the rural areas of Islamabad have seen massive unauthorised construction.

“The city has been facing many challenges and hiring of a professional consultant is the need of the hour,” said an official.

He, however, said that soon the committee formed by the Planning Commission will give its final input whether CDA should open the financial bids of the four consortiums of consultant firms or go for the bidding process afresh.

It is relevant to not the PTI government in December 2018 had formed the commission to revise the master plan. The commission after preparing an “interim” report, which was approved by the cabinet to make changes to bylaws, left the proper revision to a consultant firm, which is yet to be hired.

Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2021

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