The first tranche of funding for one of the city’s least-wanted ‘development projects’ has been released. An allocation of Rs13 million was provided to the city administration on Wednesday for establishing the federal capital’s first prison.
In 2008, the government approved a plan to construct a prison in Sector H-11 --- close to the sprawling National University of Science and Technology campus and a number of other large universities and dormitories --- and had allocated Rs2.5 billion for the project, but it never got off the ground.
Six years on, after receiving directions from the Interior Ministry, the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Administration has released Rs13 million for the boundary wall of the yet-to-be constructed prison, said ICT Development Director Rana Akbar Hayat.
The official said the ICT administration has also invited tenders for the design of the jail, while the Pakistan Public Works Department (PWD) will execute the project.
Hayat informed that a meeting in this regard was chaired by Islamabad Chief Commissioner Jawad Paul, who reviewed the project’s details and directed PWD officials to ensure the completion of boundary walls after releasing the funds.
ICT had acquired 90 acres from the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to develop a state-of-the-art jail with a library, an auditorium, segregated cells, and separate barracks for women and juveniles. The master plan includes a 22-bed hospital, schools for boys and girls, and mosques to cater to the prisoners’ religious obligations.
The project was originally expected to be completed in four years, but the government failed to meet the deadline due to a litigation battle between CDA and ICT over possession of the land, said an official, adding that the matter has been settled and the ICT aims to complete construction in two years.
Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi has been housing Islamabad’s share of prisoners as the capital has never had a jail of its own. The Islamabad city administration has wanted its own jail as it is difficult for the police to transport prisoners to and from Rawalpindi during court hearings.
Paul told The Express Tribune that ICT will send another request to the Ministry of Finance to release more funds so the project could be completed as soon as possible.
For those who will have to live or work near the new prison, the go-ahead comes as a shock.
Talking to The Express Tribune, a NUST academic wing staffer expressed astonishment over the proposed plan, saying that not only NUST, but also some scattered private housing units located between the university boundary wall and Sector H-11 will be presented with a at great security risk.
Meanwhile, Pirzada Mehmood Quddusi, an electrical engineering student at the university, said, “Everywhere in the world, jails are constructed far away from residential areas. Construction of a jail in the vicinity of an educational institute where foreign nationals are also studying and living is a ridiculous idea that needs to be revisit by the authorities.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2013.
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