islamabad - The National Assembly (NA) Secretariat has jumped into the continuing dispute between Capital Development Authority (CDA) and management of a local five-star hotel over removing the barriers placed by the latter on the CDA land in the name of security.

According to a memorandum dispatched by the NA Secretariat (administration wing) to the Inspector General (IG) of Islamabad police on May 12, 2015 — a copy of which is exclusively available with this scribe — the management of Serena Hotel was asked time and again to remove barriers from CDA land and also stop entry from the back gate of the hotel, which is situated at the front side of the Government Hostel (old MNA Hostel) at Attaturk Avenue, G/5, Islamabad. The hostel, the memorandum said, is in use of senators/members of national assembly. But, it added, “No responsibility has been taken till today.”

The enforcement directorate of the CDA had also time and again written to the management of the five-star hotel to vacate the land it has encroached upon in the name of security.  “It has been observed with great concern that you are found to have been holding a mega land portion belonging to CDA and utilizing the same for the purpose of security installations, huge car-parking,” said the latest correspondence addressed to the hotel management by the CDA. It also directed the hotel management to immediately withdraw all such arrangements from the CDA land, and in case of failure a forceful action will be carried out to vacate the land from illegal occupation at the risk and cost of the hotel management.

The directions were given to the hotel a few months back on the request of the ministry of foreign affairs and district magistrate Islamabad as the Foreign Office employees also faced problems in approaching the office due to blocking of the road in the name of security.

But, no volunteer removal was undertaken by the hotel management.

However in response to the CDA’s requests, the management of the hotel had presented its own logic for holding onto the encroachment, as it had asked the CDA to confirm that it would assume the security risk for high profile guests including heads of the states who normally stay at the hotel, in case the authority is adamant to remove the same. According to the CDA, “The land in question is greatly trespassed by the hotel management without obtaining any approval/consent of the authority.” In reply to the CDA’s concerns, the hotel management had said in true sense those were the security measures taken to protect the lives of staff and guests. It further held, “We are spending huge amount of money on the security to ensure the safety of the guests including the heads of states and the other high-profile guests who are the guests of the government of Pakistan for which we are incurring on an average Rs 10 million per annum.” The hotel management suggested the enforcement directorate to “reconfirm on the security measures with the ministry of foreign affairs and if you still consider it appropriate then please confirm us that you will assume the security risk for high-profile guests including heads of states who normally stay at the hotel and we will be happy to remove all the security staff and gadgets,” leading to a deadlock over the issue.

Earlier, an anti-encroachment operation was planned last month against the hotel encroachments but it was postponed due to the arrival of the Chinese President in the country and stay at the same hotel. With no compliance to the CDA’s repeated requests for removal of the encroachments, now the deputy speaker NA, instead of taking up the encroachment issue with the hotel management, has directed the Islamabad capital territory police to stop entry of general vehicles on the road leading to government hostel so as to ensure safety of the premises of government hostel and senators.

The directions, if complied with, would put the hotel management in an awkward position as it uses the rear gate of the hotel for transportation of eatables and grocery. But at the same time, it would cause difficulties for thousands of commuters who use Attaturk Avenue for reaching offices. The NA memorandum has asked the IG to comply with the directions of the deputy speaker at the earliest to attend the issue and report back.