New residential schemes still a distant dream

ISLAMABAD – Capital Development Authority (CDA) is fast losing its credibility amongst the residents of the capital as many of the new residential schemes it has launched with high claims are proving non-starters.

Two high profile projects Park Enclave and Margalla Retreat are a point in case.
Park Enclave was launched with very tall claims and it was promised by CDA that the applicants would be handed over their plots within two years after developing the site. More than 600 people applied for the plots. The CDA has collected close to two billion rupees from the applicants till now. But the development work has achieved very slow progress after passing of more than a year from the date of launch of the project. In fact the money that the CDA collected has all been wiped out as CDA’s resource crunch has forced the City managers to draw on this account to meet day-to-day expenses.

CDA, in September 2011 launched Margalla Retreat in E-11. Known as Northern Strip, it started as a joint venture between CDA and Multi Professional Housing Society.  The JV was challenged in the Supreme Court, which held that under CDA rules it could not enter into any agreement with a private party for marketing of land and that developer MPCHS should be paid its dues after settlement.

The CDA it seems without clearing dues of the MPCHS invited applications for residential plots, leading to a number of litigations in the Islamabad High Court.

There are a total of fifty-eight applicants who made this decision to respond to the CDA’s advertisement for allotment of plots in the said scheme. These include some respected professionals and business people who were looking to build houses in Islamabad for a decent living, disclosed some of the applicants.

This was the first time that the CDA had offered residential plots to the potential customers at market rate and with 40 per cent advance payment. Given that the advertisements by the CDA promised that the sector was already developed, applicants deposited Rupees 7.2 million each in the month of September 2011. They hoped that CDA would be able to quickly complete the process of balloting and allotment of plots and genuine buyers would start construction soon.  It has been ten months since September 2011 and during this period only once CDA has contacted the applicants through a letter intimating them that their applications were under process. In January 2012, CDA announced through newspaper advertisement that it was going to go ahead with balloting and applicants were also invited to witness the process. But the balloting process was cancelled on the day it was to be conducted.

Since then people have been waiting but CDA has been ignorant of their plight. Various efforts to approach CDA officials have only resulted in responses that blame the court orders, an applicant for the plot said. They are also wondering whether someone at CDA is concerned enough about a large amount of public money that has been deposited with CDA? Is there any realisation that in term of devaluation of money the applicants have lost a great deal? Is there anyone who will take responsibility for escalating constructions costs for the applicants?
It is interesting that CDA had launched this scheme with the Advertisement saying “Buy Today, Build Today”.  But 10 months elapsed without any action or assurance from CDA.

CDA sources claim that the authority has now settled the claims of MPCHS. To pay MPCHS, the authority reportedly had drawn heavily on the account that held the money deposited by the Park Enclave applicants. If this is true then Park Enclave applicants will have to wait another few months before they can see actual development work on the location as money reserved for development of that scheme have already been utilised. It is for sure that CDA won’t be able to give possession to the Park Enclave applicants anytime soon.

Sources in CDA claim that there were some elements within CDA who in collusion with some private investors want the genuine buyers in Park Enclave and Margalla Retreat to panic and start unloading their investments at lower prices.  These big private investors will pick up plots to be sold at exorbitant margins later when CDA will get current issues with development and courts orders resolved.