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Pakistan

Absence of Islamabad mayor, CDA chief irks NA panel

The National Assembly's Standing Committee on Climate Change on Wednesday expressed strong displeasure over the absence of Islamabad Mayor Anser Aziz and Capital Development Authority (CDA) Chairman Amer Ali Ahmed from the committee's meeting, and issued

The National Assembly's Standing Committee on Climate Change on Wednesday expressed strong displeasure over the absence of Islamabad Mayor Anser Aziz and Capital Development Authority (CDA) Chairman Amer Ali Ahmed from the committee's meeting, and issued their summons to attend the NA panel's next meeting expected on March 26th.
The committee met under the chair of Munaza Hassan from the ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). "The committee in its last meeting had summoned the mayor and the chairman CDA to attend today's meeting. Unfortunately, the committee's instructions are falling on deaf ears. This is simply unacceptable," she said, referring to the absence of the mayor and the chairman in their respective capacities as heads of Metropolitan Corporation of Islamabad (MCI) and the CDA. This is not the first time a standing committee has come down hard on the mayor and the chairman CDA for not appearing before it.Earlier on February 21, Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change expressed strong concern on the lack of cleanliness, and deteriorating environment standards in the federal capital and summoned the mayor Islamabad, chairman CDA and the Deputy Commissioner, Hamza Shafqaat, to brief the committee on the matter in the next meeting. Presided over by Sitara Ayaz, the Senate committee had also expressed concern that mayor Islamabad had been summoned repeatedly by the committee in the past but he had failed to appear. A lawmaker, who requested not to be named, told Business Recorder that several lawmakers, both from the government and the opposition, were seriously concerned over the role of mayor Islamabad regarding different issues related to the civic management of Islamabad. "There is a strong feeling that ever since the PTI government came into power, the mayor of Islamabad, who belongs to the PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz), and is believed to be a close confidante of Nawaz Sharif, is proving problematic for the present government," the source said.
Recently, the MCI raised eyebrows by allowing an unprecedented 10 times increase in water charges from Rs 400 to almost Rs 4,000 in the bills sent to the residents of I-8 sector and other areas of Islamabad.
Reportedly, some residents registered complaints against this move at Pakistan Citizens' Portal but did not get any respite.
In September last year, the MCI raised eyebrows by increasing the annual residential property tax fee in Islamabad by 200 percent. The role of Islamabad mayor came under question when the federal capital was hit with the worst water shortage in September 2018, hardly a few days after the PTI government came into power in August last year. Several sectors of Islamabad including I-8, I-9 and adjoining areas are facing serious water shortage since September 2018, despite the fact that these areas never faced water shortage before.
The mayor heads the MCI, which supervises the working of water supply, environment, sanitation and a host of other directorates related to the civic management in Islamabad. In the backdrop of serious rift between the mayor and the federal government, the latter is reluctant to release funds to the MCI and the residents of Islamabad are bearing the brunt due to lack of civic facilities, the source said.
Meanwhile, the NA Standing Committee on Climate Change on Wednesday sought the details from the MCI and the CDA of the lease agreement and rent collection involving Monal Restaurant situated at the hilly resort of Pir Sohawa in Islamabad.
The committee also sought details from the Ministry of Climate Change of the trees planted during the ongoing tenure of the federal government. It formed a sub-committee under the convenership of Sabir Hussain Kaim Khani on the protection of forests in Pakistan. The NA committee unanimously passed, with slight amendments, the government's Global Change Impact Studies Centre (Amendment) Bill 2019. The bill would now land in the Senate seeking its nod for passage. The committee also sought from the Ministry of Climate Change the details regarding the proposed launch of electric vehicles in Pakistan.
Apart from committee members, Adviser to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam, Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul Wazir, and senior officials of the Ministry of Climate Change, attended the meeting.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020