CDA during PML-N’s tenure: a baggage of successes and failures

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–Five-year performance of capital’s foremost civic agency testament to government’s apathy, lack of vision

 

ISLAMABAD: The end of a government’s tenure is the time to sit, ruminate and evaluate the performance, the massive hits, near misses and total failures. Capital Development Authority (CDA), under the rule and reign of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), can boast of achievements it made, while its detractors point out the glaring failures of the civic agency of service delivery, failure to develop new sectors, over-reliance on selling of commercial plots to keep things afloat and utter failure to resolve the water woes that gnaw at the city’s flesh and soul.

Pakistan Today ventured out to review CDA’s performance under PML-N and gauge what went right and what went wrong for the civic agency and the citizens of the capital.

THE (ALMOST) SUCCESSES:

Signal Free Corridor from Zero Point to Rawaat wax PML-N’s flagship and mega project. Started back in 2016 and still far from completion, the expansion of Islamabad Expressway-a 25 kilometer long signal free road-that starts from Zero Point and connects the capital with Rawat has caused a huge impact on the adjoining areas’ environment as the commuters use the highway 24/7. The first phase of the project, from Zero Point to Faizabad, alone comes at the cost of hundreds of trees that were cut down during the project.

In its first phase, I-8 Flyover was completed along with Sohwaan and Koral Interchange was completed and Khana is almost complete. The project faced multiple delays on account of budget allocation, failure to streamline tenders, red-tapism, etc. However, in the last month in power, the PML-N government gave approval and allocated 7 billion rupees for the remaining project.

Other expansion projects include Kashmir Highway which got the expansion of two lanes from Zero Point to Golra Mor. Metro Bus from Peshawar Mor to New Airport is another project that was initiated with great zest but came to a halt in the wake of Panama Papers case decision and the removal of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. The project too is near completion.

Expansion and dualisation of Attaturk Avenue is another project that remains in limbo as Climate Change and Environment Protection Agency has stopped the project due to chopping of trees and their impact on the environment. During the month of October last year, CDA, in order to expand Attaturk Avenue in the red zone near the Prime Minister’s Office, mowed down hundreds of trees in less than 24 hours. The practice of mowing down trees to expand and rehabilitate service roads in relatively new sectors has long become a norm.

In a first, CDA has successfully built two underground parking plazas in F-7 Markaz. Construction of these multi-storeyed plazas has greatly facilitated the shoppers and business community for they have increased the parking slots by many times.

Other than the above flagship projects, IJP Road was rehabilitated, street lights of major sectors were changed to LEDs, parks were rehabilitated, Citizen Information Centre was built in G-7 Sitara Market, digitisation of various directorates of CDA was undertaken, the one-window operation was made vibrant to fulfill the demands of the public at large.

THE FAILURES AND NEAR MISSES:

The list of CDA’s failures is a long and unending one. What tops the list, however, is its complete failure to develop new sectors. Not a single new sector has been developed during the past five years, a continuity of the PPP government in letter and spirit.

E-12, I-14, I-15, I-16, I-12, I-11, known collectively as stalled sectors, remain where they were for past decades and the affectees of the sectors, along with allottees, ran from pillar to post but no action was taken on their plight. Secondly, no serious effort was undertaken to alleviate the suffering of the affectees of Islamabad as they still await compensation. Also, the sanitation and beautification of capital took a back seat during PML-N’s tenure. Interestingly, despite spending billions of rupees on emergency and disaster management, the incidents of fire have increased manifold during the day end of their tenure as Margalla Hills caught fire on a weekly basis while E&DM failed to curb it.

HOW AND WHERE THINGS STAND TODAY:

In order to facilitate the citizens of the capital, CDA had initiated around 80 development projects all over Islamabad. These projects included the expansion of Islamabad Highway from Karal Chowk to GT Road, development work in Park Enclave, security of Parliament House, allotment of developed projects to institutions in Sector H-8, construction of overhead bridges on Nazimuddin Road, Express Highway, Kashmir Highway, Jinnah Avenue, construction of slaughterhouse, several lines in new sectors, maintenance and installment of street lights among scores of other projects in various vicinities of Islamabad.

On all of the above projects, the work has been stalled for past many months. Back in December 2017 when Islamabad High Court (IHC) sent then CDA chairman Sheikh Anser Aziz home, few projects, where work was ongoing, also came to a halt. Since then, CDA has reverted back to the stop-gap arrangements and running the affairs on day to day basis.

When contacted by Pakistan Today, CDA spokesperson Malik Saleem said that CDA had tried its level best to provide the civic amenities to the citizens at their doorstep.

“We did our utmost to bring Sector D-12 to life and we did that, although work was ongoing yet Dar from completion, CDA did its part by making main roads, connecting roads, installing street lights, sewerage, development of Markaz. We have completed it. We also tried to improve the governance model and scores of inquiries were not only initiated but taken to their logical conclusion. That improved our service delivery. CDA has worked in inculcating IT in all its directorates,” he said.