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Violation of CDA Master Plan

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Associated Press Service

ISlamabad was planned by M/s Doxiadis Associate, a Greek Firm, on the concept  of Dynapolis (a dynamic city) meaning by that  its amenities run in the direction of its expansion. It provides for dynamic and parallel development of several functions. It is conceived as an Administrative city as Capital of Pakistan and it is also to serve as National and Cultural Center. It is planned adjacent to city ofRawalpindi which acted as mother city for  its development.

Federal seat and allied functions are planned and developed at the north eastern portion of Islamabad in form of Admin sector and public Building areas. The residential and allied facilities are posted at south and south western part in lattice of grids to provide residences to the federal government employees forming major  population of Islamabad in immediate vicinity of Pak Secretariat while the  National park  to accommodate the recreational and institutions of national importance is planned at eastern side of Islamabad Highway.  Around the National park and in the area north of urban sectors rural periphery is allocated to provide foot print to the urban Islamabad so that food provision to the inhabitants at optimal rate could be possible. The rural periphery north of urban area and 2 km area around Rawal lake was later on declared as Margalla Hills National Park by the Government of Pakistan in 1980 with the purpose to protect the quality of lake water for drinking purpose and to enhance the environment of Islamabadthrough conservation, preservation and afforestation projects. All the said uses are fixed in a skeleton based on grid iron. The areas reserved for every use was calculated and estimated considering the needs of the Capital which are to be fulfilled in Islamabad. All these elements of the city  are put in a comprehensive way and in a well knitted form in such a fashion that any change in the net will deform its structure.

The transportation network of Islamabad is dependent upon the natural axis of the valley.  Its skeleton is built on grid iron pattern. For Inter cities movement four Highways (the utility and communication corridors); namely Islamabad, Murree now Kashmir, Soan and Capital highways are planned. The GT road is accommodated in the plan with a larger width.

Grid system of axis of 2100 yards has been envisaged to create the major urban areas. This Modulus creates communities of Class-V i. e. an urban sector, each having an area of 911.15 acres. The population of an urban sector ranges from 20-40000 persons. This class-V community further subdivided into Class IV human scale communities to Class-I communities on square base system. The focal point of the Class IV community has its center as commercial while the focal point for the community-III is elementary school. Play ground is the focal point for    community class-II and a garden or square for the children is the focal point for the Community class-I.

On the basis of the Classes of the communities different levels of commercial areas are planned and developed.  Class-III shopping centers (for daily needs within short radius of influence)  are for Class-III community and Class-IV Shopping centers are for the class-IV community. Class-V commercial centers i.e. Marakiz (facility of frequent need enclosed within the center) for the Class-V communities i.e. Urban sectors. For city level Class-VI Shopping Center i.e. Blue area (for more specialized and less frequent needs) is provided as a spine of the city to fulfill the commercial needs of the residents of Islamabad.

Blue area was originally with varying depth and alignment forming the Central Core of the Capital. The volume of the blue area is increased with its evolution  towards southwest so as to remain adequately accessible for  the expanded  urban sectors of Islamabad. It runs throughout the length of Islamabad and will grow together with the dynamic growth of the city. It is the most expensive commercial area of the city. It is to satisfy the specialized and less frequent needs of the relevant population and comprises in various ratios, i.e. all categories of functions included in a community of this order which are all functions that cannot be included in the communities of lower order. It accommodates the central functions of the city like Departmental stores, , Labour union offices, contractor offices and shops, professional offices, Banks, Financial Institutions,  Insurance companies, Auto-mobile show rooms, whole sale establishments, multinational companies offices,  Employment Agencies, printing and publishing, Travel and transportation agencies, Hotels, Restaurants, Cafes, Business chambers, etc. The central area is planned on  a standard of 47 Sq. ft floor space per inhabitant of the city. Initially a modulus of 100′ X 100′ was considered as the most suitable for the blocks of buildings of Blue area. Roads access is to be placed at intervals of not less than four plots that is  400′.

The requirement  of commercial need was calculated on the basis of one shop for 16 families or for 80 people excluding the shops in the Industrial and trade centers for specific uses.  Researches indicate that when this situation  is compared with the other standards i.e. one shop for 95 families it shows highly over provision of  commercial shops/ area in Islamabad. Therefore in 1974 on the recommendation of a panel of Architects and planners  the increasing width of blue area was curtailed down to a fixed width and the alignment of the Blue area was shifted between Sectors F and E beyond 9-series sectors to reduce the scale of commercial area. It was also decided to plan smaller blocks varying from 1-5 storey on southern side and 15-19 storey at northern side of the Jinnah avenue. High rise Luxury apartments, bachelor accommodation and Hotels of 5 or 6 stars were recommended in the blue area due to its easy and better/ convenient accessibility.

Federal Government issued an SRO in 2007 according to which construction on unutilized patches of land and astride major roads within built-up areas in Zone-4 were permitted Subject to permission from CDA on the basis of healthy planning parameters. Subsequently Supreme Court of Pakistan took SUO MOTO action with respect to non conforming uses prevalent  in Islamabad specially in zone-III and IV and decided that the above SRO shall be implemented and land owners in Zone-IV shall be facilitated in getting the necessary approvals for developments /construction on the private land. Accordingly private land owners in Zone-IV shall be allowed to raise residential and commercial construction like other areas and zones of Islamabad. Further the private land owners in zone-4 shall also be entitled to establish agro farms of minimum size of 4 kanals. In the SRO Islamabad Highway, Murree road, Park road, Simly dam Road, Kuri road and Lehtrar road are declared as major roads.

In pursuance of directions of Supreme court of Pakistan Federal Government  approved the sub-zonation of Zone-IV and the planning and development strategies thereof. According to new provisions the Zone-IV has been divided into five subzones namely; A, B1, B2, C and D with different and varied land uses. The specific activities like residential, commercial, educational and farming are allowed in the specific sub-zones. Mixed land uses are allowed in sub-zones- B1 and B2. Agro farming, Institutions, IT parks and Public sector Housing are permissible in Sub-Zone-C. Agro farming, Conservation and Recreation projects are allowed in subzone-D. Subzones C and D comprises of 60% (45000 acres) of total area of Zone-IV (70000acres). This will ensure the original concept of keeping this area predominantly green.

One of the prescribed general provisions for zone-IV is that commercial activity astride defined major roads shall be permissible on selected locations. The area adjacent to the Islamabad Highway is thickly constructed and populated and no planning of commercial activity is possible along the highway although existing construction in this area is mainly comprising of commercial use which is serving the whole nearby population.

Previous research studies proved that over provision of commercial areas are envisaged in the Master Plan of Islamabad. Reportedly CDA is planning to induct commercial activity of high class within the area of Islamabad highway `and Kashmir Highway which is against the provisions of Master Plan Islamabad. Further induction of commercial activity of Blue area level will lessen the sustainability of Islamabad Master Plan.

Over provision of commercial activity at different location will also affect the financial viability of Blue area.   Blue area is developed up to seventh series. In 8th series only Centurus has been constructed. If a parallel plan of commercial activities is followed in the ROW of Islamabad and Kashmir Highways it will violate the provisions of Islamabad Master Plan and over provision will also reduce the proceeds of the commercial property in Planned Blue area by at least 50%. In addition the ribbon development within the highways will also reduce the accessibility for the areas located in the rear and pose traffic problems and threaten the human safety. It will also create noise pollution and create adverse environmental impacts upon the residents.

The saleable area of Blue area in F-6 and G-6 is about 200,000 Sq Yds. and almost the same is in the F-7 and G-7. The recent average auction rate of Blue area is Rs. 400,000.00 per Sq. yd. If Blue area is continued up to 16th series the total saleable area of the Blue area becomes 18,00,000 Sq. Yds. Estimated revenue generated will be Rs. 720.00 billions. If 50% rate is reduced due to over provision by creating another Blue area in the ROW of Islamabad Highway it causes a loss of Rs. 360.00 billions is accrued to CDA.

Highways are not only roads to accommodate traffic these are also to serve as communication and utility corridors. Reduction in the width of highways will also affect its character. Highways with lesser width will not be able to accommodate the main services, rails, high tension lines and other communications along with the future manifold traffic volume.

Highways are to be built at lower level to save the surrounding areas from the noise pollution. Wide green strips planned in the ROWs of highways are helpful in absorbing the Green house gases emitted from burning of fossil fuels used in the vehicles and in this way mitigating the adverse environmental impacts. Reduction in the width of highways will also expose the residents of Islamabad to noise and gaseous pollution.

CDA acquired Large Chunks of land in Islamabad as per provisions of CDA ordinance 1960 for specific uses. The land acquired for ROW of highways cannot be utilized for commercial purposes as the same was not meant for this purpose. This will instigate the original land owners to return their land or force them to seek legal remedy as they themselves would be willing to utilize this land for commercial purposes.

Reportedly CDA is also planning for commercial activity named Gandhara Triangle  near NicolsonMonument on the land not allocated for higher level of commercial activity violating the prescribed provisions of Master Plan of Islamabad. Similar plan is being considered on the area located in the east ofQauid-i-Azam University falling in Zone-III which is reserved for conservation, afforesatation, preservation and green area projects dismantling all regulations made to achieve sustainable development ofIslamabad. This planning will have the same impacts on the Blue area as mentioned above.

CDA is a self financing Organization.  The development of Islamabad is stood on cross subsidy basis. The development of the amenities like horticultural projects, development of green areas and promotion of social infrastructure is dependent upon the cross subsidy made by utilizing the revenue generated by the sale of Blue area / commercial areas. If the revenue of the blue area/ commercial area is decreased the development of amenities in Islamabad would be hampered and ultimately it will affect the sustainability ofIslamabad. Consequently the intangible benefits of development of Islamabad will not reach to the residents of Islamabad.

All the above activities will affect the sustainability of Blue area and of Islamabad and are violative of provisions of Islamabad Master Plan and resultantly will change the prescribed land uses and also destroy the environment of Islamabad. It will expose the residents of Islamabad to adverse environmental Impacts. CDA will bear a huge financial loss which will destroy the Institutional and administrative setup of the organization and also affect the capacity of CDA to plan and develop Islamabad. It will also change the character of Islamabad. The city managers in CDA will hopefully consider the above constraints while making a decision about allocation of further high level commercial activity in the skeleton of Islamabad as it will affect its sustainability. However it is learnt that these actions are being taken on the behest of land developers and estate Tycoons to facilitate them. The Supreme Court of Pakistan may take notice of it and may issue preventive direction so that development could take place in accordance with the Islamabad Master Plan.

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