Smooth sailing of functions: Mayor vows to solve water shortage, sanitation problem

Ansar Aziz envisages plan to streamline civic issues


Shahzad Anwar July 22, 2016
“Proper feasibility studies would be carried out before launching any new development project.” PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Faced with enormous challenges ahead, Islamabad Mayor Sheikh Ansar Aziz has dispelled the impression that the bureaucracy is placing hurdles for the smooth functioning of the metropolitan corporation.

“We are working on a blueprint to give a major facelift to Islamabad with the main focus on water, sanitation, health and infrastructure development before we get the requisite funding from the federal government in the form of grants,” Aziz said in an interview with The Express Tribune.

Aziz became the first mayor of the Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation (IMC) after being appointed to a reserved technocrat seat on the platform of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). He said that the PML-N government in the centre has issued special directives to bureaucrats to cooperate with local government representatives to make the IMC fully functional.

Aziz, who holds an MBA degree and operates a construction firm, is known to be a close confidant of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The relationship reportedly blossomed after the Sharif family gave him contracts to develop their properties in Murree and Jati Umra, Lahore.

The Islamabad mayor said that all efforts would be made to bridge the gap between rural and urban areas in terms of provision of civic facilities including healthcare.

He said that water lines would be laid from Ghazi Barotha to Islamabad on a priority basis to meet the needs of Rawalpindi and Islamabad for the next 50 years.

Aziz said that water projects had been lingering for the past 12 years due to some reservations from Sindh.

“On our request, the prime minister discussed the issue with the Sindh government. At the last meeting of the Council of Common Interests, Sindh gave consent for the project to go ahead,” Aziz claimed.

He said that work on the project would kick off soon as the prime minister has approved a special grant for the scheme.

“New building regulations and bylaws would be developed to ensure that construction does not allow for raw sewage to mix in with natural waterways,” Aziz said while explaining that new sewage lines would also be installed in the city to address the existing issue of polluted fresh water bodies.

He said that no one would be allowed to build along waterways without prior approval from local union councils.

The mayor said that the prime minister had approved Rs5 billion for roads of Islamabad and the Capital Development Authority (CDA) had started haphazard work on recarpeting.

“I stopped the CDA from doing further carpeting work. Instead, this amount would be spent on priority projects identified by local government representatives with a major focus on neglected areas.”

“We will revamp all institutions to improve their performance to better serve the masses,” Aziz said, adding that they were focused on resolving all civic problems, old and new, at the earliest.

“Issues piled up after the CDA cut back on some civic services due to confusion around power sharing and department control issues,” he admitted.

While taking about financial constraints, he said the IMC demanded Rs10 billion from the finance ministry to meet non-development expenditure in the current fiscal year, “While the prime minister has promised to provide special grants for development projects.”

He said that the IMC was in its preliminary stage and they did not have the budget to unilaterally start developments projects.

“Proper feasibility studies would be carried out before launching any new development project.”

When asked about illegal housing societies, he said that new rules and regulations would be introduced to regularise them, and existing CDA building bylaws would be revamped to strictly enforce laws so that such illegal societies did not crop up.

He said that tenders would be sought from firms to identify landfill sites and to dispose of solid waste from rural as well urban areas.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2016.

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