CDA board gives ‘in principle’ approval to auction Art and Craft Village

ISLAMABAD       -        The Capital Development Authority board on Thursday gave a go ahead to sell land parcels and structures in Art and Craft Village, which is located next to Pak-China Friendship Centre. A summary in this regard was placed before the CDA board, which met here at its headquarters in the chair of Noorul Amin Mengal, Chief Commissioner Islamabad and Chairman CDA.

The total area of the Art and Craft Village is 23 acres with allied facilities including an amphitheatre, 47 permanent artisan shops, hostel accommodation, public washrooms, food courts/ restaurants, artist studios and exhibition gallery, open lawns, offices and car parking. The said iconic project of the capital was launched in 2005 and it was handed over to Indus Heritage Trust (IHT), a non-governmental organization for running of its affairs but it could not sustain for a long period of time. After a few years of its successful run, the project started facing controversies with Indus Heritage Trust and ended up with inquiries in the National Accountability Bureau and the Federal Investigation Agency. It is a bitter truth that the trust could not comply with legal and regulatory duties since its establishment.

There was no proper selection and expulsion criteria for members and the same were being appointed without following the legal requirements. Furthermore, there were no timely elections to appoint board members of the trust and some of them remained in office after completing their due tenures. After winging its case in the court of law, city managers had tried to revive the Art and Craft Village through different interventions in 2013 and 2017 but nothing could be materialized. Meanwhile, after the formation of MCI, the affairs of the Art and Craft Village were transferred to MCI, which initially offered rental leases to different entities but remained useless and failed to deliver proper purpose.

Now from the last two years, the Art and Craft Village has been almost abandoned while for a larger period, the premises also remained in the control of law enforcement agencies during the preparation of National Days or it was also occupied by the same whenever any procession comes to the federal capital.

The civic authority has recently retrieved the premises and mulled different options to utilize the said asset to provide healthy activity to the citizen in addition to the revenue generation. CDA board deliberated upon the matter in detail and decided in principle to auction land and structures erected therein to private individuals in a transparent manner for 33 years lease extendable for another 33 years. It was explained to the board that the decision will not only attract investment but it will also create employment opportunities in addition to the regeneration of the Art and Craft Village.

The board also approved establishing a building control agency to more effectively enforce the building control regulations in the entire city and to stop mushroom growth of illegal developments across the city. The new agency will be headed by a director general who will report to the member planning while all three directorates of building control dealing with different areas and respective planning sections would be placed under this agency for better coordination and surveillance. The decision will help people to get their buildings regularized under one roof, who were earlier hanging between planning and building control directorates.

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