ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has decided to convince the Supreme Court to allow the capital’s power utility to build a grid station in the Fatima Jinnah Park.
The move came after Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO) turned down a proposal to build the 132 kilovolt station at an alternative site in Sector G-9.
A CDA source told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity that CDA Director Urban Planning had suggested IESCO to build its station on land measuring nine kanals located on the corner of Margalla Road and Ibn-e-Sina Road in Sector G-9 instead of building it in the park in F-9.
However, IESCO’s site and layout board rejected the proposal citing a depression in the proposed stretch of land and its close proximity to a storm drain.
After IESCO’s reply, CDA official huddled over the issue on Friday.
During the high-level meeting, it was decided that authority must pursue the case in court on the basis of a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) issued by the Pakistan Environmental Agency (Pak-EPA) in December 2015.
“Since an environment impact assessment (EIA) had been cleared by Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA), we have decided to pursue the case in Supreme Court on the basis of NOC issued by Pak-EPA,” CDA Member Urban Planning Asad Mehbood Kiyani told The Express Tribune on Friday.
“Only a small amount of electricity would be provided to Centuarus Tower from the grid station, while the major chunk would be utilised for fulfilling the essential load requirements of Blue Area extension - including the Centuarus building, Sectors F-9, F-8, G-8 and G-9 besides Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS),” Kiyani said.
He added that if the proposed project was not undertaken, IESCO would not be able to cope with capital’s increasing demand for power in the future.
In 2011, the CDA Board had approved the allotment of 10 kanals of land for IESCO free of cost in Sector F-9 to construct the 132 KV grid station.
The planning wing of CDA allocated a piece of land in the south-most corner of the park near a nullah. The Estate Management Directorate of CDA had allotted the plot to IESCO in 2013.
The CDA also paid Rs270.725 million to IESCO in March 2014. However, IESCO had set up 25 high-mast poles from Sector E-8 to the grid site in Sector F-9 while partial foundations for the station had been built spending Rs120 million before fulfilling the legal requirements.
According to the plans, once the station is built, it would add 25 megawatts (MW) of electricity would have been added to the main grid, 16 MW of which would have been diverted to Centaurus Tower, while the remaining nine mega watts would be for surrounding areas.
However, the construction of the grid station remained contentious after it was challenged in October 2011. The petitioner had contended that a grid station would harm the park’s environment and endanger the lives of visitors.
CDA and IESCO however, continued construction work on station in violation of Supreme Court orders.
In January 2015, an EIA by the Pak-EPA barred the civic agency and IESCO from continuing constructing on the grid station in the park, arguing that CDA could not allot land without “denotifying” it from the park area.
Interestingly, in December 2015, the Pak-EPA reversed its earlier decision after its director general Khurshid Khan was transferred and an NOC was issued to IESCO.
In March 2016 however, a two-judge bench of Supreme Court headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar directed the CDA to stop the construction of the grid station and admitted the case for regular hearing. On a recent hearing on January 19, 2017, the top court criticised CDA and objected to construction of the station. It gave the civic body a month to explain their position in detail.
However, with the power utility deeming the alternative site unfit for construction of the station, CDA has decided to contest the case.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2017.