The project of new parade ground along Islamabad Highway near Garden Avenue is in doldrums due to non-availability of budget. The venue is unlikely to be ready for the next year’s Pakistan Day parade.

Official sources told ‘The News’ that on government’s directives the Capital Development Authority (CDA) had cleared the land for the development of a new parade ground by felling trees of sheesham, paper mulberry and other species. The uneven land has also been levelled by the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) with the help of heavy machinery.

The CDA had faced criticism from environmentalists for chopping down a large number of trees in the vast area. On the other hand, CDA officials claimed that most of the chopped trees were of paper mulberry while pine trees were saved.

As one travels along Islamabad Highway from Zero Point to Faizabad, the wild grass and small trees are again surfacing, which would turn the site for the new parade ground into a jungle again, resulting in wastage of millions of rupees spent on the project.

Sources said that there had been no work at the site for over six months and all machinery had been removed due to non-provision of further budget. Before the start of the project, the federal government in a meeting of the Ecnec had committed to provide 50% of the funds for the project. The remaining cost was to be met by the Capital Development Authority.

The CDA had provided its share of funds for the project, while no money was given by the government under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for the financial year 2008-2009. It means that the project would be deferred to the next financial year.

It has also been learnt that during a meeting held a few months back, the Ministry of Defence had directed the CDA to keep the site in its possession and complete the project from its own funds. A summary in this regard is still lying with concerned government quarters.

In the meeting, it was decided that the CDA could hold exhibitions and other events during eleven months of the year and earn profit from the project. Along with the parade ground, an international expo centre, having exhibition halls and open area, was also planned at the site.

Neither any action has been taken on the summary nor funds have been provided for resumption work on the project, sources concluded.

Source: The News