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Islamabad

February 7, 2017

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Blue Area — a picture of neglect

Blue Area — a picture of neglect

Islamabad

With overflowing gutters, broken windows, cramped parking lots and plazas that built without any aesthetic sense, the backside of Islamabad’s Blue Area is a picture of grave neglect and appears to beckon the city administration.

Buildings located on southern side of the Blue Area were never pieces of architecture but the condition of structures at the backside give a taste of buildings located in any under developed area of the country. Leaving only a few, the entire stretch of the commercial heartland has buildings that have come up without any aesthetic sense and many of them are in a state of disrepair.

Decades ago when one of the first buildings came up in what was to be Islamabad’s commercial hub, it was quickly labelled the “manhole plaza” by residents because of its huge gaping windows. Today there is a seemingly endless row of such concrete structures.

The original design of Blue Area in the master plan had envisaged high-rise buildings on both sides of Jinnah Avenue. The plan was however, reviewed in the mid-1980s and redesigned by two French architects to evolve a more practical and aesthetically suitable design.

The revised plan allowed for only six-storied buildings on the southern side of Jinnah Avenue, where the commercial plazas are now located, while on the northern side, high-rise buildings of 15 to 19 stories were permitted and where today stand the Saudi-Pak Tower, State Life Building and others.

Adding to that situation, many of the buildings in the commercial district have not been built as per plan approved by the Capital Development Authority (CDA). Most plazas also do not conform to safety standards.

Buildings, barring perhaps only a few, are in a state of disrepair and present a dismal view of the capital that was supposed to be a model for cities elsewhere in the country. Locating an office in these plazas is a tough task for there are so many of them cramped in each building that a first-time visitor would particularly be troubled in so doing.

Condition of these plazas that house many important private and pubic offices is worse from inside. The offices might be clean from inside but the stairs leading to them are often filthy and broken as if no one has ever cleaned or repaired them for ages. The electricity wires are often found tangled dangerously.

It is a fine mess indeed with the area’s problems having multiplied over the years. “Once this place used to be nice and clean but now when I go around I can see that things have gone really bad,” Sohail Shafiq, a regular visitor points out.

As a large number of offices have been shifted to Blue Area after CDA crack down on offices operating in residential areas, sewerage system is also turning into a mess. “We have been told that the main sewerage pipelines are narrow and cannot cater to the increase in number of users. There are very few washrooms in the offices as compared to the number of people and even those washrooms remain blocked most of the time. This issue is unbearable and if I resign from my job, it will be simply because of the poor state of this facility,” shared a woman employee of one of the NGO offices recently shifted to Blue Area.

Though the Capital Development Authority (CDA) painted the front side of the Blue Area few years ago, that facelift has barely covered the scars which remain visible in remaining part of the famous commercial area.

 

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