Pindi’s new master plan put off over TOR delays

Provincial govt appoints divisional commissioner as RDA director general to ensure swift construction of projects


Our Correspondents April 03, 2019
PHOTO: AGHA MEHROZ/FILE

RAWALPINDI: Residents of Rawalpindi have been waiting for three years for the new master plan of the city. Their wait has been prolonged by another two months with the provincial authorities unable to finalise its terms of reference.

The government had last finalised the master plan for Rawalpindi in 1996. It was supposed to serve as a guideline for the development of the city for 20 years until 2016. The city’s development body, the Rawalpindi Development Authority has been tasked with building the new master plan of the congested city for 2020-2040.

The RDA had sent a draft of the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the master plan to the Punjab Housing secretary two months ago, but they have yet to hear back from the provincial government.

RDA sources say that further progress on the master plan can only be made after the TORs are approved.

The plan aims to solve the traffic congestion in the city and manage the boom in its population, apart from coping with the rising requirements for water supply, sewerage system, electricity, gas, telephone connections, commercial and residential areas, industry, roads, streets, street lights, parks, green belts, parking lights, hospitals along with facilities at educational institutions.

Further, the revised master plan will divide the city into sectors comprising residential and commercial areas so as to provide a calm environment for the people.

Meanwhile, work on designing the 20-year master plan of the neighbouring federal capital has begun with the RDA director-general included in a federal commission for that purpose.

Old playbook for new projects

The incumbent government has decided to continue with the models from the previous governments for building mega projects in Rawalpindi.

The government has decided to retain the RDA director general as the head of the project administration, project director and executive agency for the mega projects of Ring Road and Leh Expressway.

Moreover, the government has decided to consolidate power and responsibility under the city’s chief commissioner who will have charge of the Rawalpindi Metro Bus project, the RDA as well as project director.

Previously, during the tenure of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government led by former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, the government had appointed the Rawalpindi Divisional Commissioner Captain (R) Zahid Saeed as the director of the Metro Bus project and RDA director general.

This experiment of converging powers into a single office had yielded swiftly and smoothly completed projects.

Rawalpindi Divisional Commissioner Joudat Ayaz, who already held the charge of project director for the ring road and Leh Expressway projects was given the additional charge of RDA director general on Tuesday.

His predecessor, Hayat Lak, has been directed to report to the Services and General Administration Department (S& GDA) of Punjab.

Sources said that the posts of administration head at the divisional level, the project director and the head of the executive agency were three posts critical to the smooth and quick completion of mega projects.

If there were different individuals in each of these offices, sources feared it could lead to delays in completing the project.

Water supply

Taking a page out of the playbook of their predecessors, office bearers of the current government have decided to personally engage officials at the district level.

In this regard, Punjab Minister for Literacy and Non-Formal Basic Education Raja Rashid Hafeez recently summoned the Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) Managing Director Muhammad Tanvir, and other officials to his home to discuss issues relating to water shortage.

During the meeting, the minister directed to take all possible measures to provide uninterrupted water supply to the public during the summer season.

He further directed the relevant authorities to improve the cleanliness of the city and for departments to establish strong communication between them to swiftly address the problems faced by citizens.

The provincial minister further instructed WASA officials to change or repair the worn-out water lines in the city apart from ensuring that the sewerage system works flawlessly.

Pointing to the Green Pakistan initiative of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Hafeez said that the government was determined to provide clean food and water to the public.

He assured that the government will mobilize all resources to provide clean food, water, good health and education to the public while it will also allocate heavy funds for these departments in the next budget. The minister ordered the WASA officials to repair the leaked or decaying water supply lines in the city. 

Published in The Express Tribune, April 3rd, 2019.

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