Come and go: Fountains that were crippled after the first dance

Published: February 13, 2013
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The F-7 fountain a few day after it became operational (left); the same fountain pictured on Tuesday. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID/EXPRESS

The F-7 fountain a few day after it became operational (left); the same fountain pictured on Tuesday. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID/EXPRESS

The F-7 fountain a few day after it became operational (left); the same fountain pictured on Tuesday. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID/EXPRESS The F-7 fountain a few day after it became operational (left); the same fountain pictured on Tuesday. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID/EXPRESS
ISLAMABAD: 

If the offline dancing fountains around the city are to show off their moves again, city planners will have to get approval for having installed them in the first place.

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) Finance Wing has linked the allocation of funds for the purchase and installation of electricity and water supply channels for the eight cybernetic fountains in the city with the approval of the project’s PC-I.

Like several other costly projects initiated by the authority’s Project Management Office (PMO) back in 2009, the Rs93.27 million project’s PC-I still needed approval from CDA, as the Chinese-made fountains were purchased and installed following the anticipatory approval of then chairman with the condition to submit the PC-I within 10 days of the anticipatory approval.

However, days turned into years, and after over three-and-a-half of them, the concerned formation has still not bothered to get the PC-I approved. Some five out of total eight fountains installed at different locations of the federal capital are still without electricity and water supply channels.

In July 2012, CDA had sought tenders for the procurement and installation of electricity and water panels. The summary for the allocation of funds to purchase materials needed to complete the remaining work was then moved to the Finance Directorate.

The work is now frozen, as correspondence with the CDA Engineering Wing shows that the Finance Directorate refused to allocate funds, arguing that Planning Commission rules only accept anticipatory approval as valid for one year, while over three years have passed in this case.

The Finance Wing categorically wrote that approval of the PC-I is mandatory and it must be submitted to the relevant forum for acceptance, which was never done.

The Finance Wing’s letter — a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune — also observed that estimates for necessary equipment needed to be prepared by electrical and mechanical engineers, but in this case, the estimates were done by a civil engineer.

Initially, three fountains were provided with the electricity and water panels. However, it only took a few days for the power channels of the fountains installed at Kashmir Chowk and Rawal Chowk to be rendered useless due to electricity fluctuation, leaving only the fountain at the 7th Avenue-Margalla Road intersection in working order.

Then in November 2011, unidentified persons stole some of the expensive lights on the fountain installed along the 9th Avenue. Similarly, in September 2012, violent protesters severely damaged two fountains installed near Rawal Dam Chowk and Kashmir Chowk amid the carnage on Ishq-e-Rasool Day.

An Engineering Wing official requesting not to be named termed the project “the worst example of enriching blue-eyed contractors”. The official said that in 2009, permission to procure fountains was accorded using the power of ‘anticipatory approval’ and made it subject to the submission and approval of PC-I, despite the fact that the project was not an urgent matter.

CDA Spokesperson Ramzan Sajid said a request for allocation of funds had been sent to the Finance Directorate. Meanwhile, he said proper approval of the PC-I has also been requested so that funds could be allocated.

He said initially some fountains were powered using diesel generators, but “it was costly and not a durable solution”. On-site mechanical and electrical work of the project has been completed, and the only work remaining is the procurement and installation of power and water supply channels, he added.

To a question, the CDA spokesperson said the Planning Commission Manual provides for the grant of anticipatory approval and such approval for this project did not violate them.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 13th, 2013.

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