ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) has lifted the ban on new connections in the federal capital and asked the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to share details of acquired and un-acquired land with it.

However, the company said houses in illegal housing schemes will not be provided new connections.

New utility connections were banned in Islamabad in 2016 on the recommendations of the CDA which linked it with a non-objection certificate (NOC) to be issued after approval of a building plan.

A notification issued by Iesco on June 22 stated that except housing schemes new connections will be provided in areas wherever Iesco’s network is already in place.

However, in certain areas, including Zone III and IV, the CDA has been unable to approve building plans due to regulation issues, putting the residents in trouble for many years.

The CDA, which is the sole regulator of entire Islamabad, kept itself restricted to urban areas that resulted in the mushroom growth of unauthorised construction in rural areas.

Decision will not benefit illegal housing schemes, says Iesco

However, in 2016, the CDA swung into action when most of the unauthorised construction had already taken place on private land. Referring to a cabinet decision of 2004 and some court decisions, the civic agency asked the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines (SNGPL) and Iesco not to provide any new connection without its NOC.

Interestingly, out of the total 51,000 acres, 31,000 acres is part of Margalla Hills National Park while the remaining 20,000 acres belong to private persons. But the CDA neither acquired the land from the private owners nor approved building plans in this zone, denying them new utility connections.

“The Margalla Hills National Park should be separated from un-acquired private land which should be acquired or CDA should implement bylaws of Zone IV on this zone too. Leaving 20,000 acres unattended and denying people of their right to get utility connections is unjustified,” said an official of the CDA.

However, the Iesco notification stated that connections will be provided to all citizens except those living in illegal housing schemes.

“In continuation of this directorate and instruction issued by National Assembly Secretariat dated May 24, 2021, CDA and Iesco will immediately provide electricity to public in Islamabad wherever network of Iesco exists,” it added.

It added: “All concerned are directed to allow domestic connections where Iesco network already exists except housing schemes declared illegal by CDA and adhere to the consumer services manual issued by Nepra.”

An official of Iesco said it was strange that the CDA, which failed to stop illegal constructions for years, at the end asked Iesco not to issue utility connections.

“Unauthorised construction should have been stopped at the initial stage. Look at E-11 sector where over 50 high-rise apartment buildings have been built and construction work continued for years but the CDA failed to halt it.”

In reply to a question, he said Iesco will not provide utility connections in areas where courts had directed not to issue connections.

He said the CDA was being asked to provide details of acquired and un-acquired land and areas where it provided civic facilities. He said Iesco has surplus electricity as it received 2,000 megawatt against the requirement of 1,800 megawatt.

A CDA officer claimed that the notification will not provide any big relief to the citizens.

“If Iesco is not providing new connections to illegal housing schemes and areas banned by courts, what is new in it,” he added.

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2021

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