ISLAMABAD - The plan of installing five sewage treatment plants in catchment areas of the federal capital could be materialised this year since the apex court, sensing the gravity of prevailing issue, expressed its commitment for translating a half-decade-old dream into reality.

The PC-I of the plants, to be installed at the outsets of Islamabad including Bari Imam, lower and upper Shahdra and Simly dam, is likely to be approved in the next meeting of Central Development Working Party (CDWP) of the planning commission, scheduled to be held this week, sources in the MCI said.

After approval of the PC-I, they said, ‘we will start other procedures like pre-qualification, inviting tenders and hiring a contractor’.

The idea, floated by Islamabad Capital Territory Administration and Cabinet Division in 2012, is aimed at stopping the flow of sewage in the streams of Murree and the Korang River which discharges into Rawal Lake. The population growth and mushrooming illegal settlements along the streams further aggravated the already deteriorated situation.

They regretted the bureaucratic hurdles and other technical issues which had been blocking the way of STPs’ idea for the last 6 years.

The sources said that they had submitted the PC-I, after removing all the technical observations made by the planning commission, on directives of the apex court.

In the recent hearing of the matter in the court, he said, the authorities had asked planning commission to get it approved from its PWDP within a week and to start work on at least one treatment plan as soon as possible, they added. The court is fully determined to make operational these stalled STPs, they said.       

Another official source privy to the development said that PC-I worth Rs3.69 billion and PC-II amounting to Rs70 million including cost for hiring consultants and conducting feasibility study had been finalised by the MCI.

Previously, Planning Commission raised some observations regarding categories, capacity and capability of the plants and sought integrated water management solution, details of PC-II of the project and current status of the illegal settlements in and around the selected sites.

To a question, he said that they would not wait for regularization of the illegal settlements considered to be a main hindrance and clarified that ‘placement of these plants is our first priority in larger interest of the citizens of the twin cities’.

However, stating other insight options, he said, the regularisation case of encroached land in these areas was in process and once Capital Development Authority declared them legal, the MCI would purchase the sites by claiming the easement right especially over water collection sites. The finances to acquire the identified sites had already been allocated in the PC-I, he added.

Surprisingly, the installation of plants would be facilitating majority of Punjab citizens but the provincial government did not release 36 per cent of their share for the project. The CDA had made commitment recently to kick start the project soon after approval of the PC-1.

Elaborating the plants’ capacity, they said that the five units would purify 9 million gallons contaminated water per day, giving a sigh of relief to the citizens of twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi who had been expressing concerns due to supply of polluted water.

The CDA spokesperson said the federal government had formed a committee to decide the fate of illegal settlement and soon would give its recommendation over the issue.