The Senate does not seem to think too highly of bureaucrats who follow trivial things such as orders from the highest court in the land. On Monday, members of the Senate Standing Committee on Capital Administration and Development (CAD) not only demanded that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) violate the Islamabad Land Disposal Regulation (ILDR), but also bypass the precedent set by a Supreme Court of Pakistan decisions on the use of public parks.
The convener of the committee, Senator Kalsoom Parveen was of the view that it was the prime responsibility of the state to take every possible step for the welfare of the general public.
Despite clear ILDR provisions forbidding the use of land allocated as public parks for any other purpose, the legislators have asked city managers to provide a huge chunk of Argentina Park to Polyclinic Hospital free-of-cost as part of plans to expand the hospital.
“We have examples where CDA allotted acres of prime land for the establishment of private hospitals across Islamabad at throwaway prices, but when it comes to poor masses, they are intentionally creating hurdles by contending there are legal complications,” Senator Parveen said.
The CDA must fulfil its responsibility by allotting 2.5 acres out of the park’s land free-of-cost for the expansion of the hospital building.
Member planning and design Mustafain Kazmi informed the senators that CDA rules do not allow usage of public parks for any other purposes.
“The CDA is not empowered to overrule its Land Disposal Rules,” Kazmi maintained, while admitting that in the past, some officials carved residential plots out of a public park in Sector G-13.
He elaborated that the Supreme Court in its detailed verdict had categorically rejected all arguments given for the move and ruled that land use of parks could not be changed under any circumstances. He added that a similar verdict had come from the apex court in a mini golf club case regarding a park in Sector F-7/4.
“We are not against the expansion of hospital, but if it is on a public park, it will be opposed. We have already offered land for the purpose at two sites, in sectors G-10 and I-8,” Kazmi said, adding the authority could also not violate Islamabad’s Master Plan by allowing the expansion on park land.
In 2011, the CDA had allotted 2.5 acres from Argentina Park for the hospital. The total cost of the land was worked out at Rs55.321 million.
During the last week, the authority’s board also deliberated withdrawal of the offer and decided to send the case to the Cabinet Division for its input.
Out-of order machinery
On a related note, the committee also lamented reports on out-of-order machinery at the hospital and the provision of spurious medicines.
The committee members voiced concerns over the non-payment of monthly stipends under the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) to some 500 women from Pishin District of Balochistan.
The committee recommended the establishment of banks franchises at union council level in Balochistan for easy delivery of aid money to women under BISP.
The committee was also informed that transparency was ensured while filling 118 posts at Polyclinic during the tenure of the former executive director.
CAD Secretary Shaigan Sharif said the authority had already nullified the appointment of some people who were employed against these posts.
The meeting was also attended by senators Dr Saeeda Iqbal, Sughra Imam, Robina Khalid, Baz Mohammad Khan, Kamil Ali Agha, Begum Najma Hameed and Mushahidullah Khan.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2013.