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All fountains in Islamabad dysfunctional.

Byline: Kashif Abbasi

ISLAMABAD -- To give a smart look to 'Islamabad the beautiful', 19 traditional fountains were installed at various places of Islamabad including Zero Point, Faisal Avenue, Aabpara Chowk, etc., decades ago.

Later in 2009, seven new cybernetic fountains were also installed both for tourists and locals with amazing spectacle of lights. But none of them is operational now!

The city managers also initiated another project of installing cybernetic dancing fountains to add to the beauty of the capital city.

'It's a bitter reality today that all fountains are lying dysfunctional,' said Asghar Ali Zardari, director technical, Environment Wing of Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI).

He said there were 19 traditional old fountains and seven cybernetic fountains.

'All of them are dysfunctional,' he said, adding that last year, he had pleaded the case for awarding tenders, but due to financial constraints 'we could not move forward'.

Contract of both traditional fountains and cybernetic fountains had expired during the last two years, he added.

In 2009, following anticipatory approval by the then CDA chairman, a project worth Rs93.27 million was initiated aimed at installing eight cybernetic fountains in various parts of the city.

Of these eight, one fountain was installed on the 7th Avenue near the Islamabad zoo where residents of capital and others while visiting the Marghazar Zoo used to enjoy the cool spray of water carried by the breeze and sound of flowing water.

But today, the cybernetic fountains are lying abandoned, as only rainwater accumulates there.

'During summer nights we used to visit there [ 7th Avenue]. The fountains were really a great source of entertainment and calmness, but for the last many years, they have been lying dysfunctional,' said Naseer Khan, a resident of sector G-6.

He said that a couple of years ago, the fountains were again made functional but after a few days, they were again switched off due to unknown reasons.

Other fountains were installed at various places of the capital such as Shaheen Chowk, Zero Point, 9th Avenue, Peshawar Mor, etc, but after a short period of time, they went out of order.

Sources in civic agency said cybernetic fountains were installed through a dubious project, which was prepared without PC-I. They said all eight fountains had serious technical fault that is why they do not function properly.

The CDA's fact-finding inquiry by three members in June 2015 found several violations in the cybernetic fountain project launched in 2009.

According to the report, the project was carried out without the approval of a PC-I and the estimate of the project was based on a quotation picked up from the Chinese manufacturer's website, thus promoting propriety items in violation of Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules.

In further violation of PPRA regulations, tenders for the project were called from a select list of contractors.

Adding to the irregularities faced by the project, the contractor also submitted a fake bank guarantee, which he rectified a few years later after the Federal Investigation Agency probed the matter.

The report also goes on to say that technical assistance had not been provided by Chinese experts as stipulated in the contract, which the sources said was the main reason that the fountains could not be operated.

The said report has called upon the environment wing to take steps for early functioning of cybernetic fountains, but to no avail.

The director technical of environment wing said electricity connection was no issue as necessary equipment is lying in the stores of the environment wing.

'The real issue is maintenance cost of contractors, as we required almost over Rs10 million per year to outsource both traditional and cybernetic fountains,' he said, adding that a few months ago, he moved files to get funding, but to no avail.

'Our files are still in process; whenever we get funds we will outsource both projects,' he said.

Sources said after formation of the local government, the CDA's environment wing had been devolved to fund-starved MCI.

Since its formation the corporation had not been given funds by the federal government. While the funds it generates against various receipts, it could not spend the amount due to incomplete rules and regulations.

When contacted, Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz confirmed that because of incomplete rules the corporation could not spend funds it generates through taxes.

'As a stopgap arrangement, we have been getting loan from the CDA on the directives of the federal government, but for the last four months, the civic body has been using delaying tactics in releasing funds,' he said.

Fountains will be made operational after funds are arranged, the mayor said.

'Through private companies under CRS projects, we are in the process of installing two fountains in E-7 and Faisal Avenue,' he said, adding that one fountain in F-8 is functional, which is being supervised by Centaurus.
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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:May 12, 2019
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