New CDA chief faces old tasks

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday replaced CDA chairman Imtiaz Inayat Elahi and appointed a senior official of the planning group, Farkhand Iqbal, as his

English: Yousaf Raza Gillani during his visit ...

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With just a year left to elections, the Pakistan People`s Party was no longer willing to put its faith in Mr Elahi and wanted to win over the confidence of its vote bank.Even though Kamran Lashari`s five-year tenure ended in 2008, his time as the chief of the civic agency was still brought up and hailed as the best. Clearly, the PPP-backed management had not been able to make its mark.

In the last three years, the civic body had come to a standstill in terms of development activities, which the CDA bosses blamed on “acute financial crunch” but interpreted as “financial mismanagement” by others.

Sources in the ruling PPP said the new CDA chief would have to walk a tight rope as on the one hand he has to obey his political lords and on the other he has to prove his worthiness for the slot and do what his predecessor could not do.

A local politician from the PPP on the request of anonymity said: “The main purpose behind the replacement of the CDA head was to bring some positive result because the government `really` wants to do something for the betterment of the people of Islamabad by executing those projects which remained neglected in the past.”

The emphasis on `visible` developments has been high through successive governments. This is best summed up by the comments of retired officials of the authority and real estate experts: “The heads of the CDA always love to execute those projects which remain visible like construction of roads, bridges, parks, recreational places because such schemes attract direct response of the people. You can imagine how they feel when they take their cars out and enjoy a smooth ride over newly-tarmacked bridges and underpasses. They save time and are not caught in a gridlock.”

Even Mr Lashari had stayed away from addressing civic matters that were not `visible`, such as water, sanitation and sewage. According to a survey conducted by the CDA, rusted leaky water lines result in distribution losses of 60 per cent of drinking water and most city planners blame the agency`s heads for letting things come to this.

However, there is a fear among some circles that the new chairman will not be interested in doing development work that is invisible and may give go-ahead to projects that were contentious, such as allotment of agriculture farms, sale of commercial plots in Blue Area and the leasing out of plots in various sectors. In fact, Mr Elahi`s reluctance to cave in to political pressure had him become an `eyesore` for many a politician in the capital.

Meanwhile, the new CDA chief has made tall claims regarding uplift of Islamabad: “A lot of development activities can be done in more planned manner in the city.” The official vowed to make the cash-strapped CDA a `self-reliant` organisation but he did not elaborate that how he will manage to generate funds. “I have a plan in my mind to generate funds which I will disclose after through consultation with the CDA`s concerned officials,” Mr Iqbal said.

Mr Chairman, take note please!

A low-down on what needs to be done where in Islamabad


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