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Capital parks losing their charm to thieves

February 26, 2013

ISLAMABAD, Feb 25: Islamabad has been losing all that once made it the most desired city to live in - that too to thieves. This lament came unofficially from an official of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) over the general decay in the civic amenities in the city and the devil-may-care attitude of its administrators to the rot.

“Islamabad has over 180 parks which are being robbed of their iron grills almost on daily basis,” the official told Dawn.

Thieves have also been carting off safety grills of bridges, the tough tiles paving the footpaths, circuit brackets from street lamp posts, even doors of electric transformers placed in the streets, he said.

Long stretches of footpaths along the Nazimuddin Road in Sectors F-10 and F-11 have been bared of the tiles and kerbstones, laid during the past four years to beautify the uptown areas of the city.

Raja Mahmood, a civil servant, has suffered the loot. “I take my evening walks on the footpaths along the Blue Area. In the past two months I found myself stumbling at points and noticed that the tiles have been increasingly disappearing,” he told Dawn.

And he provided photographic proof of the theft.

“Every iron or concrete material that could be wrenched off civic structures is being stolen systematically,” said a CDA official.

“It is our fault that we did not register any complaint with the local police nor approached the ICT (Islamabad Capital Territory) administration for coordinated efforts to stop such theft,” he admitted but insisted the ICT administration and the police “are equally responsible for the civic mess”.

“They also are administrators and are supposed to manage such affairs on their own,” the official said.

However, the deputy commissioner of Islamabad Aamir Ali Ahmed implied that the ICT administration could not act on its own.

“I have received no complaints from the CDA nor been ever approached for help deal with the matter,” he told Dawn.

“We know that the media often raises issues like theft of manhole covers and feel concerned but we still need a complaint addressed to my office or to the police and there has been none,” he explained.

However he promised “the administration will order the SSP Islamabad, and the SPs of all the police stations, to keep an eye on civic properties and take stern action against the thieves”.

Meanwhile, instead of stopping the thefts, the CDA mandarins have announced to renovate the city's 180 parks at a cost of Rs171 million.

That announcement has followed CDA chairman Syed Tahir Shahbaz's admission at a recent event that “though a lot of parks have been developed in Islamabad, required attention was not paid to their maintenance”. And he promised action “before these facilities lose their attraction and utility”.