Ill intent masquerades as ‘visual park’
ISLAMABAD: A chunk of land in Islamabad’s commercial centre, the Blue Area, was converted into a ‘visual park’ during the last Nawaz Sharif government allegedly as a favour to the Dewan Group of Companies, Daily Times has learnt.
Sources said the then government inked an agreement with the Dewan Group to build the park on the land, a large corner plot of several kanals, to protect the interests of the owners of the Razia Sharif Plaza (RSP), a large building that accommodates dozens of commercial enterprises.
The owner is believed to be close to the Sharif family, according to sources in the Capital Development Authority (CDA), the planner and maintainer of the federal capital.
The apparent plan was to beautify that piece of land, but the underlying purpose, sources said, was to prevent the construction of a building on the plot that would dwarf the RSP. The land is worth tens of millions of rupees.
The CDA sources believe the development of a visual park was meant to protect and maintain the value of the RSP. The CDA interprets the meaning of a visual park as ‘a park developed only to be seen from outside’. The concept is apparently very popular in countries like Switzerland and New Zealand. The Dewan Group has violated CDA rules in their maintenance of the park, sources said. Public entry is restricted by security guards, but the agreement between the two parties did not specifically stipulate that the general public shall not be allowed into the park.
They have a big advertisement board placed in the park, prohibited in the Blue Area, except on buildings. The group has also constructed a big basement, being used as a rest room by the guards, with an underground water supply — another violation of CDA rules..
And the park appears not to suit its stated purpose of beautifying the capital. “I live in Sector G-6, just a quarter kilometre from the park. I used to go there on my way to the office, which is also nearby. But I don’t really see what is so good about it,” Sadiq Mehmood commented.
The park does not have much to offer for public viewing except grass on which nobody walks, a few benches on which nobody sits, a few lights, a dry fountain and a big board displaying the name of the maintainer.
No official from the Dewan Group was available for comment. —Shahzad Raza