ISLAMABAD-The Capital Development Authority has raised serious objections to the leasing of Right of Way by National Highway Authority and asked the NHA to stop the process immediately.

The NHA had offered 16 sites in RoW of N-5 falling under jurisdiction of Rawalpindi and Islamabad but the Punjab government opposed the move due to a mutation conflict. Resultantly, the high ups of NHA dropped 12 out of the total 16 sites and put only 4 sites for leasing in fresh advertisement.

However, this time the CDA raised objections over the process and the Director Urban Planning Shaikh Ijaz Ahmed wrote a formal letter to the General Manager RoW, NHA.

CDA barred the NHA from doing leases in RoW to avoid any complications in case of creation of third party right and categorically warned that it will not approve any building plan for commercial uses being offered by the road authority.

The letter conveyed that the land use i.e. commercial plaza, shops, market, car showroom etc. offered by the NHA in RoW was violation of the Master Plan of Islamabad and ICT Zoning Regulations, 1992.

It was stated further in the letter that such proposals were rejected by CDA in past except the utilization of land in RoW for petrol pumps and CNG stations.

The letter added that the CDA was the sole regulator in terms of enforcing civic laws in Islamabad Capital Territory and referred a judgment of the Islamabad High Court in a writ petition no 676-2017, which was later upheld by the Supreme Court as well.

It was also mentioned in the letter that the Supreme Court had also taken strict notice for the removal of encroachments from the city, especially from the RoWs of highways and major avenues.

The letter recalled that the Chairman NHA along with Chief Commissioner, Chairman CDA and Mayor was present in the apex court in that specific hearing.

The said flagship initiative of Federal Minister for Communications Murad Saeed to make the NHA a self-sustainable organisation has failed because of an ‘ill-conceived’ and ‘half-baked’ policy launched by the incumbent hierarchy of the road authority.

Earlier, due to a low response from investors and a conflict with Punjab government over land mutation of RoW, the Chairman NHA Jawad Rafique Malik had decided to postpone an already-announced open auction of sites falling under the territorial limit of Punjab on last Tuesday but now the fate of remaining 4 sites has become disputed as well.

The incumbent management of the NHA had reinitiated the decade-long stalled leasing process without a proper homework in an apparent hassle, which resulted in embarrassment with its postponement and objections from different organisations.

The NHA is in conflict with the Punjab government, which had cancelled the mutation of the RoW of N-5 falling under the territorial limit of Punjab from NHA’s name during the tenure of former Chief Minister Punjab Chaudhry Pervez Elahi.

And recently, the Supreme Court in its ruling while deciding the fate of 24 leases in district Lahore on January 12, 2019 in a case number HR- 69152-P/2016 had also barred the NHA from leasing process in the territorial limits of Punjab.

In addition to aforementioned legal lacunas, the absence of a ‘formal approval’ from the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Federal Cabinet that stopped the leasing process in 2009 also makes the whole process ‘doubtful’ and ‘controversial’ while the top management of the NHA remained ignorant about these facts and in its clarifications stated that no such legal issues existed in the leasing process.