CDA-Bahria Town nexus: A tale of two enclaves

President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan, Tuesda...

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ISLAMABAD:

Instead of giving proper attention to the Park Enclave project which was launched amid much hype, the planning director of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) is busy “ensuring success” for the Bahria Enclave, it has been learnt. The latter is a housing project owned by an influential realtor.

The owner of the housing scheme could not have succeeded in getting a ‘no-objection certificate’ (NOC) from the CDA, but the civic agency did approve the land use plan (LUP) for Bahria Enclave. However, the entire process has managed to upset the legal directorate of the civic agency, which is not satisfied with the means adopted by Bahria Town and the Planning Directorate. “The Planning Directorate of the civic body, that is supposed to work to make authority’s projects successful through effective planning, entertained Bahria Town in violation of its own rules,” a top CDA official told The Express Tribune. “We are not blaming our officials, but Planning Directorate officials are enjoying cordial relations with Bahria Town,” he said.

In this clash between the Park Enclave and Bahria Enclave, the weak stance of the Bahria Town administration can be judged by the changes it made in the advertisement of the housing project. Initial ads claimed that Bahria Enclave is right opposite CDA’s Park Enclave. Later, Bahria Town administration advertised that Bahria Enclave is “near” Park Enclave. However, when the actual story surfaced; that the land approved by CDA to entertain Bahria Town was disputed and an inquiry was already pending before the Federal Investigation Agency, Bahria Town advertised, “We negate any negative propaganda.”

Sources said that “close friends” of President Asif Ali Zardari, in collaboration with the Bahria Town owner, ensured the recent posting of Tahir Shamshad to the CDA as member planning. After assuming charge, he prepared a plan to launch a housing scheme near the disputed land of Bahria Town in Zone-4, where construction was allowed by the cabinet in 2010. It has also been learnt that CDA high ups then approached the PM, who recently inaugurated the CDA’s Park Enclave project, to address the matter.

“Even he could not play a role due to the involvement of influential people close to the presidency,” said an official.

Sources said that Member Planning Tahir Shamshad was aware of the developments surrounding the Bahria Enclave Project, “Which was being planned on disputed land,” but he kept top CDA officials in the dark, including Chairman Imtiaz Inayat Elahi. “Though in collaboration with the Planning Directorate, Bahria Town has obtained a layout plan and land use plan, it still has not been able to get an NOC from the CDA so far,” an official in the CDA chairman’s office told The Express Tribune.

Allegedly, the member planning also played an important role in stopping the CDA from issuing public notices to Bahria Town. These notices were meant to publicize the fact that the housing scheme was continuing without obtaining an NOC from the CDA. He also did not initiate any legal action against the officials responsible for approving the land use plan.

CDA spokesperson Ramzan Sajid also confirmed that Bahria Town has submitted its case before the DG Planning Ghulam Sarwar Sindhu in violations of CDA rules.

On the other hand, Member Planning Tahir Shamshad, when asked about the reluctance to take any legal action against the planning directorate officials who entertained the Bahria Town administration, said, “The CDA chairman is the person for such decisions.”

He added, “It is wrong to say I have close contacts with Malik Riaz. I have not met him in the last 10 years,” Shamshad said.

Moreover, an official in the planning directorate explained that the relevant Tehsildar (revenue officer) has certified that Bahria Town administration has its own land in Zone-4, which was why the land use plan was approved. However, he added that the NOC has not been issued because it required a lengthy process, which Bahria Town did not follow.

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