MM Alam Road remodelling is pretty much jinxed

LAHORE – Despite several announcements since 2001, the MM Alam road remodelling project has not seen much progress and the construction costs have continued to climb from Rs 99 million to Rs 350 million.

Early in July 2012, the Lahore Development Authority had announced that the remodelling project would be launched with the intention of being completed within three months.
FORMER GRANDEUR: MM Alam Road, named after a retired Air Force commander who had received medal of honour Sitara-e-Jurrat for his services to the country, is in a rundown condition with cracked surfaces and broken pavements. Interestingly, this road is also a commercial hub, with dozens of shops, schools and restaurants lining the road. It runs between Main Market to Firdous Market in Gulberg. An expensive alternative to Food Street Gawalmandi, MM Alam road plays host to many popular fast food restaurants.

DEADLOCK WITH LHC : An Lahore Development Authority official recently told Pakistan Today that while the project had suffered many problems, the biggest hurdle in the completion of this project are technical and legal constraints. He said that the mega-project entailed a digital library, gymnasium, bowling alley, parking plaza, echo-friendly Park and cricket ground at the cost of Rs 1181.30 in place of multi-million IMAX theatre and shopping Mall on the MM Alam road.

The Lahore High Court (LHC) had granted permission to Punjab government to use 18 percent land of the public park for the purpose of constructing a parking lot, library and bowling alley. LHC, however, retained the rest of the land as public property to be used as a park. Punjab government, on the other hand, intends to use the entire park for the project. This has lead to a deadlock between the government and the LCH, leaving the remodelling project at a standstill.
LDA Chief Engineer Israr Saeed told Pakistan Today that court decision did not fulfil the demands of government and this deadlock has caused problems with other projects too. For example, the plan of establishing a Central Business District has been put on hold because the development plan of Doongi ground has been halted. Continue reading

Road widening projects: ‘City-to-motorway travel time will decrease by half an hour’

Punjab districts

Punjab districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SARGODHA:

Road widening works planned for the year will reduce travel time between Sargodha city and M-2 motorway by up to half an hour, district coordination officer Azmat Mahmood said on Monday.

He said the widening of the road connecting the city to the Makhdoom Interchange at the motorway and Akhbar Road were among the 18 road projects that would be undertaken in the current fiscal year. The DCO said Rs1.26 billion had been allocated for these projects.  Of these, Rs400 million would be spent on the widening of the 39-kilometre road connecting Makhdoom Interchange to the city. Spending on other projects is: Rs140.3 million will be spent on the widening of the road between Nurpur Thal and Qaiudabad; Rs90.1 million will be spent on the widening of 28-km long road from Shahpur Saddar to Jhawarian via Lak Mor; Rs14 million each on the widening of 40-km long road from Chakwal to Mianwali and 50.16-km long bypass road up to the Sargodha-Sallam Interchange and Rs10 million on the widening of 34-km long road between Sahiwal and Shahpur. Continue reading

Construction work to start soon: Commissioner

RAWALPINDI – Commissioner Rawalpindi Division Imdad Ullah Bosal on Monday said that construction work on mega projects of Rawalpindi city, Sixth Road Flyover, Pirwadhai Road Flyover and underpass projects would be started soon.

The Commissioner chairing a meeting held here directed the departments concerned that solid steps should be taken to shift the utility services from the proposed sites of the projects so that the construction work could be started soon.

The meeting was attended by, among others, Superintendent Engineer (SE) Punjab Highways Farhat Munir, Director Development Commissioner Officer Noreen Bashir and representatives of PTCL, IESCO and Sui Gas.

SE Farhat Muneer told that PC-I of these projects has been prepared and as soon as the utility services are shifted, the construction work on the projects would be started.
Imdad Ullah Bosal issued special instructions to the authorities concerned that the shifting of utility services from the proposed sites should be completed within shortest possible time frame.

The Sixth Road flyover and Pirwadhai Road Flyover projects are good and would help improve the traffic flow on Benazir Bhutto road and Peshawar Road, he said.
He said the steps are being taken to make better the traffic flow on main city routes.
He said, both the projects would help facilitate the citizens and heavy traffic load on these intersections could be controlled in a better way and traffic flow would improve to a considerable level.

Meanwhile, City Traffic Police (CTP) Rawalpindi is making all out efforts to regulate traffic on city roads besides special arrangements have been made to control traffic and avoid traffic mess particularly in Ramazan said Chief Traffic Officer (CTO) Rawalpindi, Superintendent Police (SP) Syed Ishtiaq Hussain Shah.

He said that a comprehensive traffic plan was devised in this regard which was being implemented in order to avert traffic jams on roads.
As many as 800 Traffic Wardens have been deployed for traffic duties with special arrangements for 25 Ramazan Dasterkhawans and 18 Ramazan Sasta Bazaars of Rawalpindi city. Continue reading

New residential schemes still a distant dream

ISLAMABAD – Capital Development Authority (CDA) is fast losing its credibility amongst the residents of the capital as many of the new residential schemes it has launched with high claims are proving non-starters.

Two high profile projects Park Enclave and Margalla Retreat are a point in case.
Park Enclave was launched with very tall claims and it was promised by CDA that the applicants would be handed over their plots within two years after developing the site. More than 600 people applied for the plots. The CDA has collected close to two billion rupees from the applicants till now. But the development work has achieved very slow progress after passing of more than a year from the date of launch of the project. In fact the money that the CDA collected has all been wiped out as CDA’s resource crunch has forced the City managers to draw on this account to meet day-to-day expenses.

CDA, in September 2011 launched Margalla Retreat in E-11. Known as Northern Strip, it started as a joint venture between CDA and Multi Professional Housing Society.  The JV was challenged in the Supreme Court, which held that under CDA rules it could not enter into any agreement with a private party for marketing of land and that developer MPCHS should be paid its dues after settlement.

The CDA it seems without clearing dues of the MPCHS invited applications for residential plots, leading to a number of litigations in the Islamabad High Court.

There are a total of fifty-eight applicants who made this decision to respond to the CDA’s advertisement for allotment of plots in the said scheme. These include some respected professionals and business people who were looking to build houses in Islamabad for a decent living, disclosed some of the applicants.

This was the first time that the CDA had offered residential plots to the potential customers at market rate and with 40 per cent advance payment. Given that the advertisements by the CDA promised that the sector was already developed, applicants deposited Rupees 7.2 million each in the month of September 2011. They hoped that CDA would be able to quickly complete the process of balloting and allotment of plots and genuine buyers would start construction soon.   Continue reading

IHC orders to attach CDA accounts

ISLAMABAD – The Islamabad High Court Monday ordered to attach all the accounts of Capital Development Authority while putting a bar on payment of salaries to CDA directors and above level officers for non-payment of compensation to affectees.

“It is hereby directed that salaries of all the officials of directors and above of the above mentioned departments/wings of CDA including Chairman CDA shall not be released/disbursed to them till next date of hearing. It is also directed that all the accounts of CDA shall be attached forthwith,” Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of IHC said in his written order issued Monday.

In previous hearing of the case pertaining to the non-payment of compensation to the affectees of sectors I-16 and I-17, the IHC had ordered to attach the salaries of CDA chief and directors and DGs for not complying with the court directives on payment of compensation before that hearing.

On July 17, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui had warned the CDA high ups to pay compensation to the residents otherwise their salaries would be linked and the bank accounts of the body could also be seized.

The CDA had announced to develop sectors I-16 and I-17 in 2009 and the Authority has to compensate 600 local residents with a sum of Rs 12 billion against 16,000 kanals of land in villages of Kot Kholian, Noon and Badhana.

However, the CDA had contended that the Authority had been unable to pay compensation in cash to the affectees on ground that the CDA had been facing acute financial crunch.
However, according to the court verdict, the CDA has already paid the entire compensation of acquired land in these sectors to influential persons holding interest of Bahria Town but affectees whose ancestral property has been acquired are lurking in uncertainty not due to financial crunch of CDA but for the reasons that corrupt mafia operating in CDA by holding key posts is not willing to compensate the affectees unless they are compensated. Continue reading

CDA ordered to maintain status quo in allotment of 27 plots

Islamabad

Justice Riaz Ahmad Khan of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) here on Monday issued stay orders directing the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to maintain status quo over the proposed allotment of 27 plots to bureaucrats, employees of the CDA and journalists in developed sectors — D-12 and I-8.

The court issued these orders after Advocate Ghulam Mehboob Khokhar filed a writ petition before the court based on news items published in ‘The News’ issue of June 22, 2012, and the daily ‘Jang’ issue of July 6, 2012, regarding the allotment of plots. The petitioner, while nominating the CDA through its chairman, director planning, director estate and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting through its secretary as respondents, challenged the said allotment while citing it discriminatory and against rules and regulations.

The court directed the respondents to submit their comments within twenty days. The petitioner adopted before the court that the CDA is planning to allot plots to its favourites in developed sectors of Islamabad, each costing about 25 to 30 million rupees. He was of the view that bureaucrats and CDA officials have been grabbing valuable plots at nominal prices against the merit policy, public interest and also against CDA regulations of 2005.

The petitioner adopted before the court that the said act of the CDA is unlawful, corrupt practice and needs to be declared void. As per CDA regulations, the employees of CDA have 5% quota while the civil servants of autonomous bodies have 10% quota and that too in under-developed schemes. Whereas in this particular matter, the allotments were going to be made in developed sectors. According to CDA rules, the allotment of plots should be made through open auction.

The petitioner told the court that the plots being allotted would be carved out in open spaces and green areas of developed sectors, which is another violation of CDA rules and regulations.

The petitioner prayed to the court to stop the civic authority from allotting these plots to bureaucrats, CDA employees and journalists and whatever allotments have to be made should be done through open auction. Continue reading

Clerics resist overhead bridge project

LAHORE, July 29: Scores of people led by some clerics on Sunday demonstrated in front of Karbala Gamay Shah to protest against construction of an overhead bridge as part of the Bus Rapid Transit System.

They chanted slogans against the Punjab government for constructing the overhead bridge which, they fear, would spoil the facade of the historical building.

At a press conference at the same venue earlier, they pledged grand protest rallies if the Punjab government didn’t stop the “construction of the country’s longest overhead bridge at Lower Mall by demolishing the facade of Karbala Gamay Shah and adjoining religious sacred places.”

Shia Shehryan Pakistan’s Secretary-General Syed Mazhar Hussain Naqvi said: “We have been left with no option but to protest the government’s hasty execution of overhead bridge construction. It will hurt the sentiments of Muslims.”

Flanked by Syed Waqarul Hasnain Naqvi, Sahibzada Pir Mukhtar Ashraf Rizvi, Dr Syed Noorul Mustafa Qadri, Dr Amjad Hussain Chishti and Maulana Nasir Mehdi, he claimed that the authorities had changed the BRTS design and decided to construct the country’s longest flyover at the road stretch from Katchery Chowk to Ravi Road by linking it with the shrine of Hazrat Data
Ganj Bakhsh.

He deplored that the government had earlier demolished several mosques to make way for new development schemes in the city. He said the Muslims, irrespective of sects, would not allow the flyover construction.

The government should instead start working on an underpass to avoid demolishing Karbala Gamay Shah’s facade, he said and also urged the state functionaries to restore traffic on the route before Youm-i-Ali. Continue reading