ISLAMABAD - The VIP movement in Islamabad not only causes traffic jams and wastage of precious time of the general public, but from now onward it will also be given due consideration while planning nursery plots meant for beautification of major thoroughfares and to keep intact the ecological balance and healthy environment.

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) Board has recently approved amended policy for the disposal of nursery plots in Islamabad that has also been submitted with the Public Accounts Committee for final approval.

The CDA owns some 23 nursery plots across the federal capital, while the Planning and Design Wing of the Authority has also been working on carving out new nursery plots along the right of the ways of major arteries of the city including the Islamabad Highway, Kashmir Highway, Park Road and GT Road.

As per new policy document, ‘security issues shall be given due consideration in earmarking and creation of new plots for nurseries.’ It was because of this new provision that the CDA Board in its previous meeting had turned down a summary prepared by the Planning Wing suggesting establishment of 65 new nursery plots on the right of the ways of the Expressway.

“The summary was tuned down owing to frequent VIP movement on the Expressway. The Planning Wing has rather been asked to prepare a new proposal by shifting the planned nursery plots beyond the Koral Chowk on the Expressway,” a senior official of the Environment Directorate said.

To meet the demands of ornamental plants in the capital city, the authority in early 1970’s had leased out these 23 nursery plots on discretion and without advertising or holding competent bidding.

In the absence of any comprehensive policy in this regard, the CDA Board in year 2009 extended the lease period by 30 years of some eight nursery plots against a nominal cost of Rs 4,000 per acre per annum. The decision later caught the attention of the Public Accounts Committee in 2011. The CDA was directed by the PAC to revoke at once new agreements with the nurseries owners and devise a comprehensive policy for disposal of nursery plots.

The new policy says, the allotment of nursery plots in future will be made by inviting applications through press and auction will be held amongst pre-qualified parties. The applications received from the interested individuals/firms will thoroughly be scrutinized by a three-man committee headed by the Member Environment.

The allotment of some nursery plot will be made on license basis rather lease for a period of 10 years. The licence, which will be issued by the Directorate of Municipal Administration, will be renewed on yearly basis, while the licence fee shall be increased at a rate of 25 per cent after every three years.

The licensee will also be bound, as per new policy, to provide a security deposit of Rs0.5 million, an amount which will be refundable at the expiry of license and handing over the custody of new plots for nurseries.

The licensee shall not be allowed to construct any permanent structure on the site of nursery plot except makeshift arrangements for green house, store, work shed and guardsman-cum-office room. The maximum covered area of temporary structures will be within 300 square feet limits.

The policy also states that a nursery plot will be liable to cancellation if the licensee fails to develop the nursery within one year from the date of taking possession of the land.

It’s worth mentioning here that landscaping and tree plantation has been an integral part of federal capital’s Master Plan, therefore, nursery plots are established keeping in view that provision of the master plan.

Besides these 23 nursery plots owned by the CDA, the private nurseries owners have also been playing their pivotal role to meet the demands of ornamental plants.