ISLAMABAD: With the revision of Islamabad’s blueprint facing an inordinate delay, the city managers have sought the help of the new secretary of interior to get the summary for the reconstitution of a commission approved by the federal cabinet.
Over the past years, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) made attempts to hire a professional consultant for the revision of the master plan, but in the absence of an active commission, the task remained in limbo.
In December 2022, the CDA moved the interior ministry for the reconstitution of a commission formed by the PTI government, which had become inactive following the ouster of the PTI government. However, the summary was not taken up by the cabinet.
“A few days ago, we took up this issue with the new interior secretary, Aftab Akbar Durrani; he assured us of help in getting the approval of the summary from the cabinet. This week, we will formally take up this issue with the Ministry of Interior,” said a board member of the CDA. He was optimistic that the summary for the reconstitution of the commission would be approved by the cabinet soon.
Insiders say task impossible without formation of ‘active commission’
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government was the third in the country’s history which attempted to revise the master plan of Islamabad, but it could not even initiate practical work in this regard.
In December 2022, the CDA moved a summary to the Ministry of Interior for the approval of the then-federal cabinet, seeking new names for the commission for the revision of the blueprint of the city. However, the approval of new names could not be notified. Insiders said the summary had proposed at least 20 names for the commission.
Master plan in limbo
On the other hand, the federal capital has seen alteration to its master plan without any input from professional consultants – contrary to recommendations of the makers of Islamabad’s master plan, who had advised that after every 20 years, the revision should be done in accordance with the need of time. However the successive governments kept making selective changes, and over the years, as many as 45 changes were made that resulted in the planning issues.
Even then, the major issues – mushroom growth of housing societies, informal settlements, unauthorised construction on private land, and unapproved construction of government houses – faced by the capital remained unresolved.
The CDA officials said in 1993 and 2007, two serious attempts were made to revise the master plan, but after an initial study the work was halted. When the PTI formed a government in 2018, then-prime minister Imran Khan formed a commission, directing it to complete the task within a year, but to no avail.
The commission nominated by former PM Imran Khan had prepared an interim report in 2020, which was mostly related to building by-laws and regularisation of certain areas, including Banigala, and left the revision to a professional firm that could not be hired so far.
When contacted, CDA member planning Waseem Hayat Bajwa said that CDA had moved a summary in December 2022 for the reconstitution of the commission, which became dysfunctional.
He said that the said summary would be placed soon before the cabinet for final approval. “After getting approval of names of commission members from the cabinet and subsequent notification, the commission will start working,” he said and added that revision of the master plan was imperative.
Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2023