Deputy commissioner places ban on new housing schemes

Islamabad- View from the Plane

Islamabad- View from the Plane (Photo credit: Don Donny)

Every successive administration has had to struggle with the housing crisis in the capital, but even as there are some 50 real estate schemes currently under progress there seems to be no end in sight to the problem.

Taking note of this, the Deputy Commissioner of Islamabad Amir Ali Ahmed has imposed a ban on the launch of new housing schemes in the federal capital till the existing housing schemes, both private and cooperative, have been developed.

Although the decision has been described as a belated one, it has been welcomed broadly. Both investors and property dealers are hopeful that this will curb the unethical practice of developers to keep launching ‘more lucrative’ housing projects in Islamabad without completing the previous ones on the pretext of paucity of funds and non-acquisition of land.

“I purchased filed for plots in two different housing schemes in Islamabad some ten years ago but both of them are still
under development,” said an aged man Naeem Khan who had worked abroad and after his return he invested in real estate business.

When Dawn spoke to the deputy commissioner over the ban, Mr Ahmed justified it by saying: “We have observed that some of the famous housing schemes’ developers have not completed their projects even after receiving entire dues from thousands of members (plot owners). They just want to make their bank accounts heavy and grab all the local investment, and so keep starting new projects.”

Right now some administration officials fear that it would become quite difficult for the local administration to stick to its decision if some powerful or influential builder comes up with a new scheme as earlier measures to control them had failed.

Even last year, the local administration had decided that no housing society would be able to start development work or sell its plots unless it had acquired a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Capital Development Authority (CDA).

Unfortunately, this directive was blatantly flouted.

For instance, one of the basic requirements for obtaining the NOC is procurement of land in a compact piece in two specified locations Zone-V and Zone-II.

In Zone-V, minimum required land for launching a housing scheme is 400 kanals in compact shape while in Zone-II it is 800 kanals. Of the total land, 30 per cent (for roads, streets and public amenities) is mortgaged by the CDA.

“No more land is available in a compact shape to develop new schemes in the city,” said an official of the land and revenue department of the local administration. However, new housing societies continued to crop up.

Official figures reveal that out of the total 55 functional cooperatives and private housing schemes in the federal capital, only 18 have acquired NoC from the CDA.

Most other housing societies have started development work without purchasing the required piece of land and are
cheating their members by giving incorrect information that it had met all requirements including acquisition of land.

On their part, the authorities concerned seem either helpless or intentionally ignoring this gross violation of their own laws permitting ‘powerful’ managements of housing societies. Continue reading

300 dilapidated buildings Citizens get eviction notices

RAWALPINDI, July 7: Terming almost 300 dilapidated buildings in the city vulnerable to any mishap during the ongoing monsoon season, the Rawal Town Municipal Administration (RTMA) on Saturday served eviction notices on their residents.

A senior RTMA official told Dawn on Saturday that it was a normal practice that each year the civic body served the notices to the residents of old and dilapidated structures before the monsoon season to avoid any untoward incidents.

He said that the notices were aimed at providing a face-saving to the civic body at the time of any damage.

The buildings which have received the notices include some historical ones like Government High School Ziaul Uloom, Raja Bazaar, Shimla High School for Boys and Haveli Sujhan Singh Bhabara Bazaar and some others.

Besides, some buildings in market along Mughal Saray commonly known Katra, buildings in Moti Bazaar, Bara Market, Sabzi Mandi and adjoining bazaars where traders established store rooms and labourers were residing also were also served with eviction notices.

The people residing in these dilapidated buildings say that they know that they are sitting on a powder keg but “we were helpless, as we have no choice but to live here”.

They said that if the government was interested in improving the things then it should take some measures before the monsoon season as it would be difficult for the people with limited resources to vacate the house for two months of monsoon.

Moen Ahmed, a resident of Mochi Bazaar, said that his family and some other people had been living in old buildings since the partition of Sub-continent and they had no other place to shift. He said a building provided abode to three families and nobody would leave the place to lose their property to other family.

Rawal Town Administrator Saif Anwar Jappa told Dawn that the RTMA had issued notices to the residents of these dangerous buildings to vacate or renovate them before the advent of monsoon to avoid any untoward situation.

He said that the residents of these buildings were not willing to vacate their houses due to multiple reasons. He said the civic body was also helpless as it would not be able to help them to renovate it. “The building law of the province is silent in this regard and the civic body conducted the survey and informed the residents about the danger looming over them,” he said.

He said that mostly the buildings were owned by private people, and the government departments like Evacuee Trust, Education Department and others had also owned some buildings in the downtown and it was the responsibility of the owner of the building to improve the condition of the structure. Continue reading