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Devolution of power: LG unable to address civic issues plaguing capital


The Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation (IMC) has been unable to chalk out a roadmap to address the civic issues afflicting the federal capital, despite the passage of an entire year since the local government elections took place.

Notwithstanding the close relations of Islamabad Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz with the prime minister, the body has been unable to formulate a robust strategy to deal with the major civic issues of Islamabad which include water, sanitation, health and solid waste management, as well as infrastructure development.

The mandate of the newly-elected local government was never accepted or honored by the bureaucracy.

Similarly, citizens showed resistance towards the government’s decision of putting the directorates of CDA under the administrative control of the mayor including the transfer of all rights, assets, and liabilities besides his appointment as CDA chairman.

The matter is still sub-judice in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

To rein in the CDA bureaucracy, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif gave the additional charge of Capital Development Authority (CDA) chairman to Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation (IMC) Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz in the first week of September, which provided him with sweeping powers to deal with CDA bureaucrats who were allegedly creating hurdles in the functionality of the civic body.

“We supported the Mayor in a bid to strengthen the local government system in Islamabad against our party lines, but nothing could be done on the ground. Not even services structure could not be developed to this point,” Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) opposition leader in IMC Ali Nawaz Awan, told The Express Tribune.

Awan added that IMC only existed on paper and no effective work was being done on the ground.

He said that 23 of the  CDA’s 49 departments were devolved to the IMC.

The opposition leader said that the mayor and deputy mayors could not pass a single piece of legislation to improve or strengthen the local government system.

Awan maintained that the CDA was an executing body which was facing a shortage of funds. He said monthly expenditures total Rs600 million while they have only Rs250 million in cash reserves.

He went on to criticise the policies of the current mayor and said that two contracts were awarded last month, and payments were released before any work began on the projects.

Furthermore, no work on the Diplomatic Enclave has begun
to date.

Another Union Council chairman spoke to The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity and claimed that no measures were taken to bridge the gap between rural and urban areas in regard to the provision of civic facilities.

He added that no progress could be made on the water shortage crisis as was promised by the Aziz after his election.

Moreover, he said that the proposal of bringing in water from Ghazi Barotha only exists on paper.

Attempts were made by the CDA chairman to resume reforms in different directorates, particularly in the land and estate directorates.

As a result, the record of the land directorate was sealed with more than 90 employees transferred on charges of corruption. This decision, however, was later reversed and those transferred were restored to their posts.

Previously, CDA officials took action against encroachments, with a few major violators of building regulations apprehended.

However, with the introduction of the local government system, action against such encroachments and violators slowed down owing to political pressure and influence.

The number of raids by anti-encroachment teams dropped considerably ever since the elected representatives took charge of the city’s development.

Additionally, the mayor in the capacity of CDA chairman vowed to introduce new building regulations and bylaws.

Sources in the CDA said that the main motive behind this move was to facilitate owners of high-rise buildings in addition to accommodating contractors’ demand to allow the building of skyscrapers that is in violation of the capital city’s master plan.

Source: The Express Tribune

Byline: Shahzad Anwar

November 24th, 2016


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