June 2006 News

Muzaffarabad civic body opposes Erra’s plans

21 June 2006
The Dawn

Muzaffarabad: Administrator Municipal Corporation Muzaffarabad (MCM) Zahid Amin has strongly objected to the way the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (Erra) has been carrying out its job and urged President Gen Pervez Musharraf to intervene and undo what he termed some controversial plans of the authority. Speaking at a news conference here on Wednesday, he said that the Erra had wasted more than 45 days in holding meetings while it had yet to approve and implement Muzaffarabad’s master plan. The master plan, prepared by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in consultation with the MCM, suggests that some directorate-level offices may be moved out of the town but the offices of the AJK government should remain in the new civil secretariat. It further suggests that district headquarters should be set up at the site of old civil secretariat with Upper Adda as the municipal city centre. Mr Amin said “How long will we subject the homeless survivors to agony of wait,” adding that the MCM could no longer stop the survivors from repairing and constructing their houses. “We have allowed people to repair their houses or start constructing their makeshift or concrete structures in the light of the seismic report,” he said, adding that people, however, should seek guideline from the MCM so that present or future width of roads and streets was not affected. Mr Amin opposed the plan to shift the Muzaffarabad district headquarters to Garhi Dupatta, some 25 kilometres south of here in the Jhelum valley, saying that it would amount to depriving 80000 small traders of Muzaffarabad of their livelihood. These traders, he said had already suffered huge losses in the quake. The plan, he said, was also a conspiracy to suppress a longstanding demand of people to make a new district, Hattian Bala, in the Jhelum valley. “We won’t allow execution of any plan which is against the wishes of people and also make it clear that nothing can be implemented at gunpoint.” It is alleged that some top-level officials of the AJK revenue and services department are manoeuvring shifting of district-level offices to Garhi Dupatta where they or their relatives own vast tracts of lands. “I had already asked the Erra chairman not to fall prey to conspiracies of bureaucracy which is least concerned about peoples’ problems,” Amin said, urging President Musharraf to ask the authority not to go for the controversial plan. He said “Instead of giving dictations and making short visits to the quake-hit zone by helicopters, the Erra chairman should establish his camp-office in Muzaffarabad.”


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