Islamabad master plan revision body to get three new members

Published May 25, 2021
Islamabad’s master plan, which was prepared in 1960 by a Greek firm, was supposed to be revised after every 20 years, but successive governments never paid any heed towards its revision. — INP/File
Islamabad’s master plan, which was prepared in 1960 by a Greek firm, was supposed to be revised after every 20 years, but successive governments never paid any heed towards its revision. — INP/File

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has decided to add three new members to the commission assigned with the task to revise the master plan of Islamabad.

Sources said the Capital Development Authority (CDA) had moved a summary, which through the Ministry of Interior, will be placed before the federal cabinet proposing three new names to be added to the commission.

The names of two architects Sikander Ajam, Murad Jamil and retired Brig Teepu Sultan have been forwarded to the federal government.

“If approved by the federal government, the three members will join the master plan commission,” a CDA board member told Dawn. The member said after the addition of three more members, the commission will focus on getting its task completed within one year.

If approved by govt, commission will focus on getting its task completed within a year, says official

Islamabad’s master plan, which was prepared in 1960 by a Greek firm, was supposed to be revised after every 20 years, but successive governments never paid any heed towards its revision.

This negligence resulted in planning issues, including mushroom growth of illegal buildings.

However, the government in December 2018 decided to revise the master plan and formed a commission of experts, which saw some changes in composition before preparing an interim report, which was approved by the federal cabinet in October 2019. In its interim report, the commission members formed new bylaws related to commercial buildings and also regularised unauthorised construction in certain areas.

However, no solution was proposed for Zone III, where there has been unauthorised construction.

The commission decided that a proper revision will be done by a professional consultant to be hired by CDA.

However, almost 10 areas/issues were identified where a study is to be required by a professional consultant.

The interim report was prepared by a 12-member commission, comprising architect Nayyar Ali Dada, Ali Asghar Khan, Aziz Aslam, Khurram Fareed Bargatt, lawyer Nayyab Hassan Gardazi, environmentalist Humaira Qasim Khan, Asma Khalil, Naveed Aslam, Salman Mansoor and others.

Earlier, on recommendations of the commission, the CDA last year had, through national and international press, sought bids from reputed firms for proper revision of the master plan.

However, sources said that in response to the advertisement, only a consortium of four consultant firms with 11 companies submitted their bids. But none of them fulfilled the criteria that the civic agency had advertised.

CDA did not want to lose the opportunity of receiving backing from the federal government for proper revision of the master plan, for the first time.

But, if the civic agency awarded the contract, it could face legal challenges. This issue was placed before the CDA board a few months ago, which decided to take it up with the planning commission as it was the commission which had vetted the Request for Proposal (RFP) documents for calling bids from consultant firms.

Sources said despite the passage of several months, the issue is still undecided and now there are chances that the CDA in consultation with the commission will go for calling bids afresh. The commission will focus on 10 areas and consultants once hired will be asked to conduct studies in these areas and then the commission itself will propose changes to the master plan, they said, adding there is almost 50,000 acres in Zone III. Out of the total, almost 30,000 acres is part of Margalla Hills National Park and the remaining 20,000 acres is private land. But the owners of private land have been facing issues in construction of their houses because as per the existing plan, construction is not allowed in Zone III.

On the other hand, during the last 61 years, the CDA did not acquire this private land or create bylaws to regulate construction. People have also been denied the basic right of getting utility connections.

“The commission will resolve the issue of Zone III on priority basis,” the CDA board member said.

Successive governments made over 40 selected changes to the master plan without getting any input from professional consultants that resulted in planning issues.

The board member said the issue of housing schemes needs attention as well and the commission will resolve all civic and planning issues of the capital city.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2021

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