It`s RTMA versus PPB now! Land dispute stirs up again

RAWALPINDI, Nov 16: Rawal Town Municipal Administration (RTMA) sought possession of the officesof

A map representing the Rawalpindi Division.

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defunct Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation (RMC) at Raja Bazaar from Punjab Privatization Board (PPB) to build a parking plaza. However, the board put it in a spot by seeking market price of the sought after land in return.RTMA officials told Dawn on Wednesday that they wanted to construct a parking plaza at the site of their former office and sent a reference to the Punjab government in this regard. However, the PPB refused to give back the land to the RTMA and said it was the property of the Punjab government and if RTMA wanted the land, it had to pay its market price before using it for the said purpose.

Upon this, the officials said, the RTMA contacted secretary local government to solve the issue between PPB and RTMA. They said the secretary would take up the matter with PPB next week.

RTMA offices were shifted to the new complex in 2004. The former office, spread over land measuring 13 kanals and 11 marlas, has been lying vacant for the last seven years. At present, Suzuki and wagon stand was operating at the site and RTMA was collecting parking fee from Suzukis and wagons to the tune of Rs4.5 million per annum.

The Punjab government tried to sell the land of the former RMC offices and other adjoining property measuring 37 kanals including that of Rawalpindi tehsil offices (14 kanals) and CIA police`s office commonly known as Kotawali (10 kanals).

The government had set Rs2.5 million per marla as reserve price and was expecting Rs6 million per marla during the auction. However, not a single party showed its interest in this auction held in 2010.

When contacted, Rawal Town Administrator Saif Anwar Jappa said the RTMA had sent a request to the Punjab government to get its land back. He said the members of traders association also met Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif last month and requested him to direct construction of the parking plaza on the site.

He said after their meeting, the Chief Minister`s Secretariat directed the RTMA to give a plan for parking plaza to ease traffic congestion at Raja Bazaar. He said the RTMA pointed out the vacant land which was currently being utilised as Suzuki and wagon stand and asked the government to handover the land.

However, he said the PPB sought market price of the land which was very unfair as the land belonged to the RTMA. He said the land had been in possession of the defunct RMC since 1947 and was handed over to PPB in 2009.

To a question, he said the RTMA was trying to get back possession of that land first and after that it would think about the finances to build the parking plaza.

When his attention was drawn towards the fact that the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) had recently constructed a parking plaza at Raja Bazaar, he said one parking plaza was not enough to ease the traffic mess in the thickly populated area.

PPB officials requesting not to be named said the land was registered in the name of the Punjab government and RTMA had no right to get it back. They said if the municipal administration wanted that land, it should pay the market price. They said the PPB had not received any instructions from Chief Minister`s Secretariat in this regard and if the provincial government directed the department only then would it handover the land to RTMA.


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