Islamabad - At a time when the Capital Development Authority is battling the menace of encroachments and illegal occupation of state land in the federal capital, the Directorate of Municipal Administration of Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad has itself allowed a Union Council chairman to set up ‘Sasta Bazar’ at the right of way of the 10thAvenue.

The decision has been taken in violation of the prescribed rules that may also lead to litigation and put the CDA in a complex situation in future when it decides to open the 10th Avenue. The decision may also encourage the other MCI members to make such requests to the Mayor leading to multiplication of an illegal act under the prescribed rule. On one side, the Authority is concerned about the occupation and use of Right of Way of the Kashmir Highway in sector G-12 by the owners of marquees and the wedding halls but at the same time, the DMA has granted permission to Chairman Union Council 43, Rana Muhammad Ashfaq to occupy the Right of Way. There is no provision of allotment of Right of Way even for temporary usage, in the by-laws, according to the officials of MCI and Planning Wing who spoke on condition of anonymity. They said that MCI was a purely political decision and set a bad example by allowing use of the Right of Way.

According to the details, the competent authority in the case, Mayor Islamabad acting on a request of the Chairman UC 43 and subsequent report by DMA through letter dated 12 December 2017, provisionally approved the request regarding establishment of weekly Sasta Bazaar as approved/earmarked by the Planning Wing, CDA measuring 200x300 at the Right of Way of the 10th Avenue in sector I-10/4 on temporary basis to ‘facilitate the general public subject collecting the stall fee debtable to chairman UC account on certain terms.’

The terms and conditions prescribed in the permission state that the site is being given purely on temporary basis and will be withdrawn on or before construction/development of the 10th Avenue as per standard cross section. “Chairman UC 43 will provide account no of UC 43 which is attested from secretary UC 43. The Chairman shall reserve 25 percent quota of the stalls for the Mayor/Chairman CDA in each category of space for allotment,” read the terms of the allotment.

Another term states that MCI will not be party in any dispute between Bazaar management and general public. According to the MCI officials, the permission and the terms may lead to a complex situation and litigation in future for the MCI as the act is totally illegal and cannot be defended under whatsoever circumstances.

The terms further said the rate of fruit, vegetable, poultry and meat shall be fixed after obtaining the rates from whole sale fruit and market I-11/4 including 5-10 percent profit and transportation charges. It is to mention here that the proposed site just a sector length away from the main fruit and vegetable market of the capital city.    

A resident of sector I-10 had approached Islamabad High Court against the MCI decision of allowing the Chairman to set up Sasta Bazaar. Justice Amer Farooq of Islamabad High Court in its order dated 25 January 2017 restrained the respondents including the Mayor, CDA Chairman and others from raising any construction or proceedings with establishment of the Sasta Bazaar. The petitioner, a resident of sector I-10/4 had filed the writ petition under article 199 of the constitution and made Mayor Islamabad, Director Municipal Administration, Rana Ashfaq Chairman UC-43 and CDA respondents. 

The CDA in its reply to the Court held that the site of Sasta Bazaar which is proposed to be established vide order dated 12 December 2017 is partially right of way and green belt. But later, the respondent withdrew its petition, technically paving way for setting up the Bazaar.

The Chairman has accelerated construction work for the ‘Sasta Bazar’ at the Right of Way and in the next few days the stalls would be allotted to the public as the project is to benefit general public.