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PM’s Inspection Commission Directs CDA To Restore Historical Argentina Park

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ISLAMABAD: The Prime Minister’s inspection commission has directed the city managers of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to restore the historical Argentina Park for the use of the general public and remove the illegal boundary wall built by the Polyclinic Hospital Islamabad.

The PM’s inspection commission has further informed the civic agency that the Islamabad High Court in its verdict on the writ petition of Yasmin Haider VS CDA, Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (PAKEPA), Cabinet division, Ministry of Health, announced on July 05, 2019, declared the purported conversion of Argentina Park as illegal and ordered CDA to restore the park for the general public.

In this case, while competing public interests between maintaining a park and expanding a hospital for citizens can be argued, the fact is that rule of law must be respected.

In spite of Islamabad being the exception to Pakistan’s cities when it comes to green spaces, the principle here was that the master plan could not be changed at will. As stated in the court’s verdict, another principle at stake was that the environment could not be ruthlessly damaged and destroyed by the public functionaries entrusted with the task to maintain it as a trust on behalf of the people of Pakistan.

According to media reports, Argentina Park is one such recreational spot at the heart of the city in sector G-6 of the federal capital. CDA established the park in cooperation with the government of Argentina. Argentina Park was inaugurated on May 23, 1973 at the initiative of President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as an expression of thanks for Argentina’s support extended to Pakistan at the United Nations Security Council and the United Nations General Assembly amid the backdrop of the 1971 war between India and Pakistan.

The Polyclinic Hospital was built in 1966 whereas the Argentina Park was developed for the specific purpose of providing a green and healthy environment to the people of the area, the patients of the hospital and those visiting it.

PM’s Inspection Commission in its direction to CDA said that a medical facility should not combine primary, secondary and tertiary care units in the same place and add further to it by expanding into a specialty hospital that extends beyond the catchment area of the Polyclinic Hospital.

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The directions further added that Prime Minister Imran Khan is keen on expanding green spaces, but green spaces were not only removed from the premises but carbon pollution is also being added by forcing masses of people from all over Islamabad and Rawalpindi to a single location for what may just be a bad cold or allergy, which also burdens personnel of Polyclinic hospital.

The inspection commission warned CDA of any illegal works in Argentina park, which would be a violation of the Islamabad High Court’s directions and the vision of the prime minister.

The park has been handed over to the adjacent Federal Government Services Hospital. The hospital has planned to construct a five-storey, 1100 beds hospital over 2.54 acres of the Argentina Park in order to cater to rising patient load.

A member of CDA, on the condition of anonymity told Naya Daur that the current chairperson of CDA and Chief Commissioner of Islamabad Aamir Ali Ahmad are in favour of the expansion of Polyclinic hospital and are supporting the hospital’s administration in this regard.

He further added that the historical park has been ruined by the current administration of Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad and CDA due to poor planning.

Meanwhile, the chairperson of CDA has denied these allegations and informed Naya Daur that he had directed the relevant department to restore Argentina Park for the general public on a war footing. He further added that CDA will restore the park in the coming days and no illegal activities would be spared.   

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