ISLAMABAD: The revision of Islamabad’s master plan still seems to be a forgotten initiative as Capital Development Authority (CDA) is yet to hire a consultant firm to begin work on it.
CDA officials are attributing the delay to “lackluster approach” of a committee formed by the planning commission to review terms and conditions of the Request for Proposal (RFP) document.
Prime Minister Imran Khan in December 2018 had directed proper revision of the master plan of Islamabad. He also chaired several meetings to discuss the issue but so far no work has been started.
In February, this year, CDA referred the RFP document to the planning commission for a review because as per existing RFP none of the firms, which had submitted documents, fulfilled the criteria of getting a contract for the revision of the master plan.
Sources said after receiving CDA’s letter, the planning commission had formed a committee to look into the RFP. A few meetings were held, but the committee is yet to announce its final decision. Earlier, the CDA in response to advertisements, had received bids from a consortium of four consultant firms, however, none of them was reputed internationally, as desired in the advertisement.
Secondly, sources said, CDA had wanted to avoid new bidding, which is a time-consuming process and the civic agency wanted to start the revision as soon as possible. The issue, in short, continues to remain pending.
The RFP was prepared by a commission formed by the federal cabinet for revision of the master plan. After proposing changes to by-laws, related to commercial buildings and regularisation of unapproved buildings in certain areas through an interim report, the commission decided that a proper revision of the master plan would be conducted by a consultant. In light of the commission’s interim report, the issue of high-rise buildings was resolved as it encouraged vertical construction.
However, proper revision of the capital’s master has been delayed, resulting in difficulties being faced by citizens in getting utility connections.
In Islamabad, except Zone I [where CDA’s own sectors are located] citizens cannot get utility connections without a no-objection certificate (NOC) from CDA. The NOC means approval of building plans.
“There is an urgent need for revision of the master plan, but this issue is facing delay. We are waiting for an input from the planning commission’s committee,” said an official of the civic agency, adding residents of Islamabad, particularly those living in Zone III spreading over 50,000 acres, have been struggling. Out of the total, 31,000 acres is part of a national park while the rest is private land.
“These issues are to be resolved by a consultant yet to be hired,” the official said, adding CDA is also facing several other issues due to delay in the revision of master plan.
The master plan was finalised in 1960 and it was supposed to be revised in accordance with the need of the time but successive governments never made any serious attempt to revise it. Instead, they kept making selective changes without any input from a professional consultant, the official said, adding 40 major changes have been made to the original plan so far.
The original master plan was also not fully implemented. Its creator Doxiadis had recommended that by the 80s CDA should develop housing sectors up until G.T. Road but the civic agency has not moved beyond F-11 and I-14.
Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2021