ISLAMABAD: Financial crunch coupled with strong criticism has forced the government to shelve the Benazir Monument project, sources told the Express Tribune on Tuesday.
The Rs400-million-project was to be built at Shakarparian on 10-acres of land provided by the Capital Development Authority (CDA). Amid the severe economic crisis, the construction of this monument had been heavily criticized as a superfluous expenditure in difficult times.
The CDA had opposed the project describing it a ‘violation’ of the capital’s master plan.
CDA Chairman Imtiaz Inayat Elahi told The Express Tribune, “We were informed that in view of the flood relief and rehabilitation operations, use of government funds for the memorial was stopped.”
But the sources said that, “Strong criticism from all fronts forced the government to shelf this project.”
The Finance Wing of CDA also confirmed that no funds had been released for the complex.
This project had been approved by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and was Islamabad’s second mega project of its kind during the last four years. The first such project was the National Monument that cost over Rs700 million to build in 2006 on the directives of former President Pervez Musharraf.
Senator Nayyar Bokhari is part of the governmental committee overseeing the project. He confirmed that the project had been postponed by the Federal Government.
He told The Express Tribune that he felt the project was, however, justified because Benazir Bhutto had been elected prime minister of Pakistan twice. “She did so much for democracy that a memorial should be built to honor her,” he said.
Bukhari added that the construction of two Benazir Bhutto memorials had originally been planned, one inside Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh, where Benazir was assassinated, and the second in Islamabad, the Federal Capital.
However, the Punjab government’s reported disinterest hindered development of the Rawalpindi memorial. Now the financial crunch had led to the second monument project being shelved.
Member Finance of CDA Saeedur Rehman said that construction of the monument had been assigned to CDA but provision of funds was the Ministry of Culture’s responsibility.
A Karachi based firm, ARCOP Associates, run by noted architect Yawar Abbas Jilani, has prepared designs for the monument and an adjoining library complex.
Member Finance CDA said that the authority had not received any payment for the 10 acres of ‘valuable’ land they had provided to the Ministry of Culture for this monument.
“We are optimistic that we will succeed in getting money from government,” he said.
Deputy Director General Planning Directorate of CDA Sarwar Sindhu said that the project was mentioned in the PC-1, adding that this would help clear CDA’s liabilities.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 13th, 2010.
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