INTERVIEW WITH CDA CHAIRMAN
– Amir Ali Ahmed
Amir Ali Ahmed, the Chief Commissioner and Chairman Capital Development Authority (CDA) held several important positions in the past. He is one of the most renowned officers of Islamabad. A reason for his overwhelming popularity may be that he served the federal capital for about one and a half decade. He served as assistant commissioner, deputy commissioner Islamabad, member administration CDA, joint secretary ministry of Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) and now he holds the two most important posts – Chief Commissioner and Chairman CDA – in Islamabad. In an interview with The CONSUL, he disclosed the plan of shifting those small embassies and foreign missions to Diplomatic Enclave who could not afford relocation due to financial constraint or other reasons.
Excerpts from the interview:
Question: The CDA has chalked out a plan for shifting of foreign missions to Diplomatic Enclave, a purpose built area for the embassies 10 years back but there are still several embassies operating their offices in the residential sectors. Do you have any plan of shifting the embassies?
Ans: It is not an easy job, we have to involve Foreign Office to communicate with the embassies. It is also a fact that those embassies having small footprint cannot afford to spend millions on purchase of plot and construction of building in the Diplomatic Enclave. We have planned to offer them to use the complex of old Chinese embassy since they have shifted to a bigger set up. The vacant complex could be rented out to the small embassies. We can also establish a restaurant and gym in the said complex.
Question: The new International Islamabad Airport Metro Bus Project is pending for last several months. When are you likely to start the new service which would benefit the citizen as well as the staff working in different embassies.
Ans: We have planned to ply electric buses on the route. We have submitted the PC-I to the Planning Commission and also wrote to the economic affairs division. It would take 4-6 weeks. However, as a makeshift arrangement, we decided to ply shuttle service as soon as possible.
Question: The successive chairmen of the CDA neglected the rural areas of the federal capital. Do you plan to introduce some uplift schemes in the neglected rural areas.
Ans: We have allocated unprecedented Rs13.5 billion for rural areas of Islamabad. We have initiated several projects of water supply, sewerage system and construction of roads in various union councils and far flung areas of Islamabad. Majority of the development schemes are near completion.
Question: Why CDA is criticized for negligence, despite the fact that it has over 15000 employees on its strength?
Ans: Most of the time, CDA is criticised for all the wrong reasons. Up to 11,000 employees of this organisation have gone to Municipal Corporation Islamabad (MCI). Now we are left with very limited staff and our mandate is development and planning.
Question: Is CDA planning to resume stalled development of residential sectors?
Ans: CDA has approved PC-I to develop Sector I-15. We are also going to develop E-12, I-12 and I-14. The process that has been set in motion now will take a lot of effort if someone tries to roll it back after me. Development of these new sectors is perhaps the legacy we may leave. If we succeed in developing these sectors, it will be a bumper achievement as these sectors have been stalled for decades and in some cases the people who have been allotted plots have died before getting possession. We generated record funds through auction of plots. The prime minister has also appreciated our efforts. And we are going to hold auction of smaller plots by the end of this month. It will generate a lot of money.
Question: Is CDA planning further development out of the fund it would generate from the proposed auctions?
Ans: We have enough funds to build new bridges on Islamabad Expressway from Old Airport Chowk to Rawat. This piece of road is like a sore thumb. Once the bridges are extended, the major source of congestion on this road will be removed and traffic will be fine. We shall do it with our own resources. So in the future when funds for this road are set aside, we can consume them in another value-added adventure.
Question: People complain about poor sanitation in the federal capital, despite the fact that CDA has a large workforce?
Ans: Though cleaning the city is not CDA’s job, we take extra steps to make sure that the city is clean. Had I been in-charge of MCI, I would never have taken 11,000 employees when I have to outsource most of the services. It is the worst example of bad management. We have a lot of data to share to explain a lot of things.