Cabinet gives go-ahead to amending Islamabad’s local govt law

Published August 18, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan presides over a cabinet meeting in Islamabad on Tuesday. — Photo courtesy Prime Minister's Office Twitter
Prime Minister Imran Khan presides over a cabinet meeting in Islamabad on Tuesday. — Photo courtesy Prime Minister's Office Twitter

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Tuesday gave the go-ahead to amending the Islamabad Local Government Act 2015.

It also approved the re-composition of a commission for the revision of the city’s master plan.

The cabinet at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan approved a summary for amending the Local Government Act before the new elections in the capital.

Sources said under the new system the government wants to have the mayor of Islamabad directly elected.

The cabinet also gave approval for increasing the number of union councils from 50 to 100. It set a population of 20,000 for every union council.

Commission formed to revise master plan gets new head, two members

An official of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said as per the census held in 2017, the population of Islamabad was around 2.2 million. On the basis of a union council per a population of 20,000, the capital would have around 100 UCs.

The first ever local government elections were held in Islamabad in Nov 2015. Following the elections, the mayor and deputy mayors belonging to the PML-N were elected in March 2016.

However, the Metropolitan Corporation of Islamabad (MCI) headed by the PML-N mayor failed to deliver after both PML-N and the PTI governments did not pay any heed to its empowerment. The local government completed its five-year term in February this year without any contribution.

An official of the ECP said around three months were required for the delimitation of 100 union councils before announcing an election schedule.

Meanwhile, the cabinet added three more members to the 12-member master plan commission. Retired Major General Farrakh Javed will head the commission while Murad Jamali (architect) and Sikandar Ajam (architect and town planner) will be the new members. Naveed Aslam and Suleman Mansoor have been removed from the commission as members.

The revision of the master plan of Islamabad has been facing an inordinate delay since December 2018 when the federal government decided to form the commission.

The commission had prepared an interim report mainly related to commercial buildings and houses in certain areas, including Banigala, which was approved by the cabinet in November 2019. However, a proper revision of the master plan is yet to be carried out as consultant firm has not been appointed so far.

Islamabad’s master plan prepared in 1960 by a Greek firm was supposed to be revised after every 20 years, but successive governments paid no heed to it. The negligence resulted in the mushroom growth of illegal buildings particularly in rural areas of the capital.

Last year, the CDA had invited bids from reputed firms through advertisements. In response, it received bids from a consortium of four consultant firms having 11 companies last year. But none of them fulfilled the criteria which the civic body had sought.

Following this, the CDA referred the case to the planning commission, which had vetted the terms and reference for hiring the consultant firm. However, the matter is still undecided.

The cabinet also approved a proposal for formation of a committee, which will make decisions regarding unauthorised construction in various zones of Islamabad.

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2021

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