Govt houses Monetisation doesn’t go well with CDA

ISLAMABAD, Dec 3: The Planning Commission’s dream of monetising sectors G-6 and F-6 by building skyscrapers is being given a reality check by the unenthusiastic and cash-strapped civic authority.

Unimpressed by the lofty dreams of the Planning Commission, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has warned the federal government that it cannot deal with the increase in demand of civic services if high-rises are built in the city.

In a meeting held at the Planning Commission in the last week of November, the CDA told members of the meeting that demand of every civic utility and amenity would go up.

The CDA is already facing serious financial crisis and has no money to build the required sewage and infrastructure to provide disposal, water, electricity and gas to thousands of new residents of future high-rise buildings, Dawn has learnt.

The meeting was headed by deputy chairman Planning Commission Dr Nadeemul Haq and attended by Housing Secretary Kamran Lashari and Chairman CDA Syed Tahir Shahbaz.

It is pertinent to mention that the civic agency’s urban planning wing has drafted blueprints to construct skyscrapers in sectors G-6 and F-6 on land that currently has 2,251 government residential units.

The skyscraper project would be part of the Planning Commission’s ‘New Framework for Economic Growth’, and would have apartment buildings and commercial plazas as well as new public sector buildings.

The plan proposes a special zone over an area of 371 acres of mixed use with high-rise development on the lines of that in Hong Kong.

The monetisation of housing units of federal government lands had been approved in April, and a complete revision of existing planning parameters, rezoning and land re-classification had been expected.

“Sir, we need additional water resources, increased electricity, and almost every civic service would need an upgrade if we go with the vertical expansion of the city,” a senior federal official who was present in the meeting quoted a CDA official as saying during the presentation at the Planning Commission.

“At the moment, the city has one nine-inch diameter pipe to drain sewage for every 1,000 people in a sector. We would have to lay new sewage lines to meet the needs for 10,000 people living in the same area after the vertical expansion of the city,” commented a Planning Commission official on the request of anonymity.

In fact, the official continued, they would have to upgrade all services provided by CDA.

Islamabad will be congested than ever. It will have more cars and population density in every sector will increase,” claimed the official.

He added: “A vertical tower similar on the lines of Centaraus Tower would require additional electricity and we have to install electricity transformers with the help of Islamabad Electric Supply Company in different areas. Again, this will require investment worth millions of rupees.”

An engineering wing official of the CDA seconded this and revealed that Centaraus Tower required around 20 megawatts of electricity and CDA is currently in the process of installing a grid station to meet the electricity needs of the tower.

“If we establish few more towers like Centaurus, the demand for electricity would go up twofold and we would need more space to install grid stations,” he claimed.

Another official associated with the project in the Ministry of Housing said: “How will we be able to provide gas to the residents of the future high-rise flat owners?”

According to CDA spokesman Ramzan Sajid, member planning Syed Mustfain Kazmi has said the project is still under progress.

“During the meeting we briefed the committee on the issues which may come up. This does not mean that the project has hit a dead end, and the vertical expansion of the city will surely continue in the future,” the spokesman quoted Mr Kazmi.

Mr Sajid insisted that CDA is an executing agency of the government and “once it’s given a directive, it will complete its duty of developing the city on modern lines.”

The official refused to comment on the increased demands of civic amenities once the vertical expansion of the city is initiated.

Despite repeated attempts, deputy chairman Planning Commission Dr Nadeemul Haq could not be contacted for his comments on the matter.