ISLAMABAD: The status of the proposed industrial zone, Sector I-17, could be changed to a residential one to help city planners meet their financial requirements, The Express Tribune has learnt.

The sector was proposed a few years ago in response to growing concerns of environmentalists over industrial units operating around residential areas of the capital.

Under the original plan of the city, Sectors I-9 and I-10 had been designated as industrial zones. But following the construction of a number of houses in violation of regulations, the areas were converted to residential zones alongside the industries.

The Supreme Court ordered the industrial units to be shifted outside these residential areas. A few weeks back, a parliamentary committee also asked the CDA to immediately relocate industrial units functioning in residential areas of Islamabad.

At present, around 800 industrial units are functioning in three different sectors of the federal capital. Out of these, around 150 are in sector I-10, 250 in sector I-9, and another 350 at Kahuta Road, near Humak.
To develop sector I-17, officials have estimated an initial investment of Rs5.82 billion and atleast 15 years for the process to complete.

Earlier, CDA postponed relocation of the units to the new sector due to a shortage of funds. The civic agency also expressed dissatisfaction over the terms and conditions proposed by industrialists. Factory owners, officials said, did not match the estimate of the Planning Directorate for revenue required to compensate land owners of the area.

While the negotiations are ongoing, the city managers are considering turning the proposed industrial zone to a new housing sector.

CDA Spokesperson Ramzan Sajid said, “We are looking at the option of developing a new sector in the city,” but added that the final decision would be taken in the next board meeting.

Sajid reiterated that CDA was still negotiating with the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry so that shifting of industrial units could be carried out.

The Senate Standing Committee on Environment earlier directed CDA to take steps to immediately relocate industrial units to the proposed I-17 sector. “No more delay is acceptable,” said Senator Muhammad Humayun Khan while chairing a session.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (EPA) officials gave details of only 200 industries functioning in residential areas of the city. Those located in I-9 and I-10 sectors include eight steel mills, four re-rolling mills, five cooking oil and ghee mills, 31 marble-cutting and polishing centres, 10 pharmaceutical factories, 23 industries of metal works and engineering and 25 flour mills.

“We have received criticism from certain quarters, but we must settle issues with the affected people and the business community. It takes years to develop industrial sectors,” said CDA Chairman Imtiaz Inayat Elahi while responding to Senator Tariq Azeem during the senate session. Elahi claimed before the committee that industrialists from Peshawar and other cities had also contacted CDA to acquire land in the sector under development.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 12th, 2011.