Govt transition delays revision of capital’s master plan

Islamabad-A move to engage a consultant for much-awaited revision of Capital’s master plan has been delayed due to change of government and the retirement of Member Planning and Design, Capital Development Authority (CDA).

Following the CDA board’s decision to hire a consultant to revise the master plan of the city, the planning wing had initiated its efforts. Former Member Planning CDA Asad Mehboob Kinai mandated the Directorate of Master Plan to formulate a terms of reference (ToRs) to hire the services of a reputed consultant firm.

According to the sources, the civic body had decided to float an international tender to seek bids from both the local and international firms having the required expertise to revise the plan.

“The successful bidder will have to study the existing master plan, conduct on-ground surveys to assess its implementation and to figure out the problems and gaps”, a source informed the Nation, adding: “After following these steps, the firm will give its recommendations and suggestions to amend the master plan for next 30 years” It was decided during the tenure of former member planning to release an international advertisement immediately to avoid any further delay because the capital city is following 58-year-old master plan, which needs several major changes to cope up with modern challenges.

However, after the retirement of Mr. Kiani being member planning in middle of July and the formation of new government, the whole process was shelved by city managers and the said advertisement could not published so far. The office of member planning is being run through ad hoc arrangements as Mr. Hafiz Ahsan-ul-Haq is currently working as member on look after charge and there is no permanent appointment in this regard so far. 

When contacted, the Director Master Plan Zafer Iqabl Zafer informed that CDA is working on the project and soon an advertisement in this regards would be published in local and international papers.

Meanwhile, CDA had also asked the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) to form a commission to revise the capital’s master plan, which is also not formed yet.

It is pertinent to mention here that the commission and a consultant are two different things. The commission is supposed to recommend changes, while the consultant will revise the master plan technically, in light of the commission’s recommendations.

Islamabad’s master plan was prepared by a Greek firm, Doxiadis in 1960 with the suggestion that it should be revised after every 20 years. But the failure of successive governments to revise the plan resulted in a lack of civic planning for the city.

In 2008, an inter-ministerial committee of the federal cabinet approved the revision of the master plan but failed to implement its decision. The committee had recommended regularising unplanned construction in zones III and IV, which include Bhara Kahu and Banigala, but not allowing any further construction there.

The boundaries of zones III, IV and V were also to be defined to prevent people from expanding settlements in Simly, Bhara Kahu, Banigala and Chak Shahzad.

A park had also been proposed in the entirety of E-14, on the pattern of Fatima Jinnah Park, to improve the environment of and recreational activities in the capital.

The relocation of a mass transit plan that consisted of a rail track passing through many sectors in Zone II away from residential sectors was also proposed.

Other amendments to the master plan included the construction of an education city in H-16, an engineering university and new roads in Zone IV, an IT park in I-12 and a central jail.

Under the Islamabad Capital Territory Zoning Regulations promulgated in 1992, the capital was divided into five zones with the federal government’s approval. Further amendments were made in 2010 and a number of individual changes were also introduced.

Changes proposed for the master plan had included shifting the zoo and botanical garden from its original site southwest of Rawal Lake to the reserved forest area in Banigala, and the conversion of F-9 from a residential sector to a park. Similarly, in 2010 the federal cabinet changed the use of the national park institutional area in Zone VI to farming, housing and institutional area, apparently to facilitate the owners of housing societies.

However, revising the master plan in totality is a lengthy process and hiring a consultant firm and its recommendations will not mean a change in the plan. It will need a final formal approval of Capital Development Authority board and the federal government.


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