ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi said on Friday that Islamabad Model Jail will be completed in six months, whereas four days ago the chief commissioner had given a deadline of 100 days to make the prison ready.

During an inspection of the under-construction jail at H-16, the minister observed that the project had been stalled for years but now it would be completed in six months. He tasked the officials concerned with completing the first phase of the project in six months, directing the chief commissioner and the IGP Islamabad to regularly review the progress on the construction. He said the construction work should continue day and night.

The process for appointment of the necessary staff should also be started immediately, he said, adding the availability of resources for the completion of the project will be ensured.

Chief Commissioner Islamabad Mohammad Ali Randhawa briefed the minister and said the project to establish the jail was approved in 2011.

Directs commissioner and IGP to review progress; says work should continue round-the-clock

He said the jail will have the capacity for 2,000 prisoners which will be increased to hold 2,000 more inmates.

Earlier, the chief commission at a meeting held on May 6 had directed the department concerned to complete and made the model jail operational in 100 days. In this regard, work in three shifts was also ordered after the superintendent of Adiala jail requested him to issue directives for makeshift arrangements in Islamabad to keep persons arrested in the capital under beggary act.

In the meeting, the commissioner was also briefed about the ongoing construction work and informed that 73 per cent work on the construction of the administration block, 98 per cent on the constriction of the wall and 42 per cent on the constriction of male barracks had been completed.

The Adiala jail superintendent had informed the commissioner that the prison in Rawalpindi had the capacity to keep 2,174 prisoners but there were at present 7,000 inmates. He requested the chief commissioner to get the jail in the federal capital completed at the earliest so that beggars arrested under the beggary act could be shifted there.

It may be recalled that work on the model jail was started in 2016. As per the original PC-I, the project worth Rs3.9 billion was supposed to be completed in 36 months - July 2019. About a year ago, the PC I was revised with the cost escalating to Rs18.2 billion. As per the revised PC-I, the project was supposed to be completed in July 2024.

In the revised PC-I, the covered area was increased from 869,621 square feet to 914,329 square feet. The PC-I was revised because of changes to the covered area, variation in scope as per actual site condition, replacement of the asphaltic road, revision of foundation design due to a shallow water table, service conditions, premium of land, a sewerage treatment plant, enhanced security level equipment and inflation.

The project was conceived in 2007 and a committee was constituted by the Ministry of Interior, comprising the ICT administration, CDA and the district judiciary for the selection of an appropriate site. The site was finalised at a meeting under the chairmanship of the then chief justice of Federal Shariat Court in February 2012.

After the approval of its board, the CDA allotted 90 acres in H-16/2 to the ICT in 2013 and the land was handed over to it in 2014.

During the PTI government in 2020, the then prime minister ordered the shifting of the jail from its current site as it was being constructed in green and buffer zones. Buffer zones are neutral sites that separate areas; Islamabad’s buffer zone separates the federal capital from Rawalpindi.

CDA officials told Dawn that H-16 does not fall in the actual buffer zone at all. They said the original master plan for the capital was meant for Rawalpindi as well. Under the master plan, the A to H sectors were part of Islamabad and the J to O sectors were to be developed by Rawalpindi.

Therefore, they said, the actual buffer zone was in I sector series instead of the jail area, but in the documents no change was made, they said. Subsequently, the federal government decided to continue the project at the same location.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2024

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