ISLAMABAD-A committee headed by Federal Minister for Interior Ijaz Ahmed Shah dropped an idea to allot new kiosks in the sectors of the capital city after dissenting opinion from Metropolitan Corporation, Islamabad and Capital Development Authority.

Earlier, while chairing an anti-encroachment meeting last month, the Federal Minister for Interior had directed the CDA to earmark pieces of land in sectors for kiosks and prepare a plan for their allotment to private individuals.

He had directed for identifying areas in every sector for kiosks, minimum one and maximum depending upon the requirement of the people.

According to sources, in an earlier meeting, the CDA officials presented the proposed locations for kiosks that included 12 urban and 7 rural locations. Main areas identified for establishment of kiosks included Park Road near Rawal Dam Bridge; Park Road opposite Shahzad Town; Taramari Chowk, Bara Kahu, Murree Road, Khanna Bridge, Chamber Road (Rawat); G-7/2 opposite Blue Area; G-7/3 Near Iqbal Hall; G-8/3 Blue Area near PIMS; G-9/2 opposite Markaz; I-9/1 near STP; F-10/3 opposite Markaz and F-11/2 opposite Markaz.

It was also proposed in that meeting that there would be uniform style for kiosk designs across the city. The committee unanimously agreed upon the identified sites while the execution plan of the proposal was to be finalised in next meeting.

However, a follow up meeting was held at Ministry of Interior on Wednesday, which was attended by Chairman National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior Raja Khuram Nawaz, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on CDA Affairs Ali Nawaz Awan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health and senior officials of both the MCI and CDA.

According to sources, both the CDA and the MCI suggested avoiding pursuing the move and argued that anti-encroachment drive against the existing kiosks was underway across the city and if the government would license new ones, it would be affected badly.

A source informed the Nation that after an extensive debate on the issue, finally the interior minister agreed with the city authorities and decided not to go for allotment of new kiosks in the city.

Though, the Federal Minister for Interior had jumped into the controversy but what he had directed was not as easy as he envisioned because the issue of illegal kiosks in the city has a long history. There were a total of 235 kiosks across the city till 2011, which were licensed by the CDA time to time according to the needs. However, after that, around 250 more kiosks were allotted by then government of Pakistan People’s Party allegedly among its cronies.

The beneficiaries range from bureaucrats to politicians and journalists as well, who grabbed prime locations of the city against nominal fees and are earning millions. The practice of giving licences to well-connected people was expected to increase day by day but then the Supreme Court formed a judicial commission to probe the irregularities in CDA. The court also declared establishment of kiosks as illegal and directed their closure.

The Capital Development Authority. thus cancelled all the kiosks, but as usual, the city mangers remained under hibernation till the Federal Investigation Agency’s involvement in the matter, which had initiated an inquiry in this regards.

Resultantly, the city managers became active in the end of 2015 and in the beginning of 2016 when they started gigantic operation against illegal kiosks across the city.

At that time, the matter was taken up by Parliamentary bodies which barred the CDA from doing further operations. The issue of kiosks remained under discussion for a long time and ended with the directions to regulate them.

In 2017, the same recommendations were placed before the MCI, which gave approval for regularisation of the kiosks.

The Directorate of Municipal Administration had issued conditional offer letters the kiosks’ leaseholders but linked them with the approval of the planning wing of the CDA.

However, the Planning Wing of the CDA had declined to allow such regularisation and considered it as a violation of the Master Plan of Islamabad and other relevant laws. Resultantly, the process could not attain finality.