ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) is set to come under fire, again, as those allotted plots in Sector I-15 threatened to launch a protest against the agency’s failure to develop the sector.
The plot owners have warned the CDA that a series of protest rallies are going to be staged in front of parliament after Eidul Azha if development work is not immediately started in the area.
“Our hard-earned money is on the line here. Even after a long wait of eight years, there is still no hope that development work would be initiated,” said Zahid Ali, who owns a plot in I-15.
The sector was targeted to serve housing needs of Islamabad’s poor families, particularly those whose annual income falls under Rs150,000 per annum, and government employees working in pay scales under BS-16.
“I dreamt of having a house of my own in Islamabad for years. Now it seems unlikely to materialise in my lifetime. Even then, I do want a future shelter for my children,” said a wishful Nafeesa Bibi, who has invested in a plot.
According to the layout plan, I-15 covers 745 acres. It was acquired in 1968-69 by the CDA, which at the time had planned to develop a total of 5,560 plots and 8,000 economy flats of three sizes for people in low-income brackets.
Estimated to cost Rs1.164 billion, the sector’s infrastructural development work was awarded to a local contractor on a turn-key basis in 2006. After the contractor failed to execute the project, the agreement was terminated in April 2007.
Later, the CDA held bidding with international firms after seeking approval from the federal government through the cabinet division.
In September 2009, five firms were shortlisted for the project, four of which withdrew their nominations, leaving China National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation as the only developer submitting a bid. The US$785.5 million bid was turned down as the authority felt the figure was too high.
Subsequently, two Chinese firms, China Railway First Group (CRFG) and China Machinery Engineering Corporation offered to arrange a loan through the China Development Bank to cover around 80 per cent of the cost.
An MoU was signed between the CDA and the consortium during a visit to China by then-president Asif Zardari. But the cabinet division objected to the arrangements, which were finalised on June 6, 2012 in China, as they were not in line with Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules.
Consequently the new agreement was termed null and void and the CDA was directed to reinitiate it according to PPRA rules. Since then, the project has been shelved.
A total of 8,000 people were allotted flats or plots in the sector, of which the CDA has refunded 3,350. It was also decided that the land dedicated for economy flats will be converted to similar sized plots, accommodating the remaining 4,650 people who did not take their money back.
The decision was taken in view of the unending financial crunch the authority is in.
CDA Public Relations Director Asim Khichi said issues around the stalled sector have been prioritised by the incumbent management. “The chairman has asked the concerned departments to provide presentations with workable suggestions to resolve the issue,” the director said.
According to Khichi, the chairman will announce the initiation of development work in the sector after reviewing the presentations.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 14th, 2013.