The Islamabad Jail Project, initiated to construct a state-of-the-art prison facility in the nation’s capital, has encountered significant delays, casting doubts on the effectiveness of the departments involved in its execution.
Commenced during the fiscal year 2016-17, the project’s progress is a mere 30%. The primary objective of this undertaking is to create a model prison in Islamabad, with an initial capacity to house 2,000 inmates, followed by the potential provision for an additional 2,000 inmates.
Islamabad Jail Project Progress
Budgeted initially at Rs3,920.523 million with a stipulated completion time of 36 months (July 2019), the Islamabad Jail Project underwent a substantial revision, with the new cost reaching Rs18,279.498 million. According to the revised Project Concept-I (PC-I), the anticipated completion date now extends to July 2024.
The revision of the PC-I was driven by a series of factors, including an increase in the covered area from 869,621 square feet to 914,329 square feet. Notable adjustments encompassed changes to the project’s scope, replacement of asphaltic roads with RCC roads, alterations in foundation design due to a shallow water table, service conditions, the premium for land, a sewage treatment plant, enhanced security equipment, and inflation.
Despite these amendments, the revised PC-I has yet to receive approval, possibly subject to further escalation in cost. The Islamabad Jail Project’s current state of affairs is a source of concern as the deadline for completion steadily approaches in July 2024.
The revised PC-I was presented before the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) in October of the previous year. However, its approval was deferred, and the executing agency was directed to investigate the reasons behind the allotment of land in green and buffer zones. The CDWP requested a report and a rationalized/revised PC-I for consideration.
Islamabad Jail Project Inception
The inception of the jail construction project dates back to 2007, with a committee constituted by the Ministry of Interior involving the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration, the Capital Development Authority (CDA), and the district judiciary tasked with selecting an appropriate site. The chosen location was finalized in a meeting chaired by the then-Chief Justice of the Federal Shariat Court in February 2012.
Following approval from its board, the CDA allocated a 90-acre space in Sector H-16/2 to the ICT in 2013, with the formal handover of land occurring in 2014.
In 2020, during the tenure of the PTI government, the Prime Minister ordered the relocation of the jail from its existing site, citing concerns regarding its construction within green and buffer zones. Notably, buffer zones serve as neutral spaces that separate distinct areas. In the case of Islamabad, the buffer zone separates the federal capital from Rawalpindi.
However, CDA officials have contested these claims, asserting that Sector H-16 falls outside the buffer zone. They contend that the original master plan for the capital also encompassed Rawalpindi, designating sectors A to H as part of Islamabad and J to O as under Rawalpindi’s jurisdiction. Therefore, the designated buffer zone was within the I-sector series instead of the jail area. Consequently, the federal government continued the project at the original location.
The delayed progress of the Islamabad Jail project has raised concerns regarding the efficiency and oversight of the responsible departments, further complicating the path to creating a modern prison facility in the capital. With the clock ticking towards the revised completion date of July 2024, stakeholders and authorities must address the lingering issues and expedite the project’s development.