A sub-committee of Parliament’s lower house on Monday decided to take up the issue of incorporating rural areas of Islamabad in the municipal limits of Capital Development Authority (CDA).
A sub-committee of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat met here at CDA headquarters with PML-N MNA Tariq Fazl Chaudhry in the chair. The committee, besides discussing other issues, also discussed in detail the ‘proposals for extending CDA’s municipal limits to rural areas of Islamabad’.
Chaudhry, the elected representative from NA-49, has been advocating the cause for several years with a view that it would help bridge the rural-urban divide in terms of development and municipal facilities.
“The gap between rural and urban areas in terms of development is widening with every passing day,” he said.
He further said the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Administration seems to have failed to address the issues of rural residents, adding that it is because the ICT Administration was not a development agency.
It was decided that the sub-committee would hold a meeting with the ICT Administration for transfer of development functions to CDA in rural parts of Islamabad.
The extension of CDA’s municipal limits to rural areas is the demand of nearly 0.7 million rural residents and politicians who get to power corridors relaying on the rural vote but involves several administrative and financial implications, said a senior officer of the authority.
According to a housing survey conducted by the Census Department in 2011, 0.7 million of capital residents were residing in the rural areas, which are managed by the ICT Administration.
The record provided to the committee says the total ICT area falls under 225,000 acres, while the notified municipal area is 76,000 acres. Out of the total notified municipal area, CDA currently provides municipal services to completely developed residential sectors, which is around 50 per cent of the total notified area. Around 300,000 urban residents and 700,000 rural residents are still out the municipal services loop.
The rural areas comprise 133 villages in 12 union councils. Of these 12 union councils, as many as 10 fall within Zone-IV of the federal capital.
The CDA is of the view that besides proper government notifications for the purpose, which will be a hectic process, additional manpower to the tune of 1,500 officials will be required if the municipal limits are extended to rural areas. Moreover, another Rs1 billion per annum will be required for the upkeep of the added areas.
However, on Monday, it was decided that relevant quarters would be contacted to take up the issue at the federal government level.
The committee was also informed by CDA that ‘One Window Operations’ of the authority were not performing as per expectations of city managers. CDA Member Administration Amer Ali Ahmad informed the committee that the authority had decided to replace this desk with a user-friendly system: A Facilitation Centre at Sector G-7.
The meeting was also attended by Nafeesa Inayatullah Khan Khattak, Seema Mohiuddin Jameeli, and Malik Abrar Ahmad besides CDA officials.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 18th, 2014.