Islamabad-A cricket turned multipurpose ground—renovated and maintained by the private sector—located on Embassy road is one of the best models of Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives (CSRI). The excellent model needs to be replicated in other parts of the city as well.

There are 36 state owned playfields across the capital including hockey, football, cricket, tennis and multi-purpose grounds while around 187 large and small public parks are also waiting for a response from private sector.

The embassy road cricket ground was a picture of neglect like other sports’ facilities being maintained by Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI). Last year, however, the facility was handed over to a private firm for a three-year period under an initiative of the Mayor of Islamabad Sheikh Ansar Aziz titled “Own a park/ground”.    

The ground that was devoted to cricket matches was allowed by MCI to be converted into a multipurpose facility. A part of the ground had also been lost due to the ongoing expansion of Ataturk Avenue, but facilities for sports such as football and basketball, kids play area, practice nets for cricket and an outdoor gym have been established on this ground.

At the time of its privatization, there were reservations that the facility might be misused or the general public would be restricted from its use. However, time proved this to be a misgiving.The ground is visually appealing because of its greenery, lightening and well-managed car parking. It can safely be said that the state owned facilities across the city pale in comparison to it. The surprising and note-worthy aspect is that a visitor doesn’t have to pay a single penny to avail the facilities. This ground is third in a row of such facilities upgraded by the private sector under Mayor’s initiative. Earlier, the private firms also renovated a park in front of Serena Hotels, and a multipurpose ground in sector F-8.

However, unfortunately, the same initiative could not be emulated in other parts of the city due to multiple reasons. The ousting of the Mayor from the office of Chairman CDA by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) was the main reason, since the former chairman’s actual strength was to implement such initiatives.    When contacted, the Mayor Shaikh Ansar Aziz said that the provision of the state of the art sports facilities to the residents of the city, by upgrading existing sports grounds is his top priority. “We are in contact with business community and I invite them to own the city and enhance its beauty”, he told, assuring: “The MCI on its part would fully support and facilitate the private sector in this regard.