Property tycoon faces perjury charge

ISLAMABAD, Dec 28: An additional sessions judge, Islamabad on Friday admitted a petition, seeking criminal case against property tycoon Malik Riaz, his son Ali Riaz and police officials for allegedly implicating the petitioner in a murder case.

Judge Wajid Ali, on the petition filed by Dr Shafiqur Rehman, owner of Allied Developers, a private construction company, issued notices to Malik Riaz, his son Ali Riaz, two inspectors of Islamabad police, Ahmed Kamal and Younis Gujjar, and directed them to submit their reply by January 8.

According to the petition, a Bahria Town security guard, Fayyaz, was murdered on August 14, 2008 in a clash with the security staff of a private housing scheme, Eden Garden.

Besides nominating the original culprits, Malik Riaz decided to implicate his business rivals in the murder case to blackmail them into surrendering their land to him.

Initially, the petition said, BT’s security supervisor Shaukat Ali got an FIR registered against 13 employees of Eden Garden as well as 70 unknown people on August 14, 2008 accusing them of murdering the security guard.

The petition alleged that after one year of the murder of the security guard, Malik Riaz met Dr Shafiq and suggested him to surrender 900 kanals located adjacent to Bahria Town phase I to VII near G.T. Road, Rawalpindi. But Dr Shafiq refused. Continue reading

LDA seals 35 properties

LAHORE, Dec 28: Lahore Development Authority’s Commercialisation Directorate on Friday sealed 35 properties in the city after their owners failed to deposit the requisite fee despite being issued notices.

The properties sealed are situated on College Road in Township. The officials said the drive against defaulters would continue. Continue reading

Real estate: Lahore property prices largely stagnant over the past 5 years

A glut of new real estate developments in Lahore over the past five years has created a housing surplus in the city, keeping prices throughout much of the provincial capital largely stagnant, according to new data released by Zameen.com.

As a precursor to creating a real estate price index, Zameen.com, one of the largest real estate websites in Pakistan, has compiled data on average real estate prices for Lahore since it began tracking data in 2007. The data is based on land and house price listings on Zameen.com. While the website is not able to keep track of actual sale prices of each property listed, the trends in listing prices are often a useful proxy for actual prices. It was this data that was shared with The Express Tribune and it does not paint a pretty picture for real estate investors in the city.

Average land prices in most middle class neighbourhoods in Lahore increased by a meagre 2.79% per year during the past five years, according to the data. During that time, inflation averaged 13.83% per year, meaning that most people who invested in land in the provincial capital lost money in real terms. Any property price increase they saw was wiped away by inflation.

House prices fared only marginally better, with the average price of a home in a middle or upper-middle income neighbourhood in Lahore increasing by a meagre 3.73% per year during the past five years, again well below inflation. Continue reading

CDA fails to execute parking plaza plan in capital

ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has not yet given any practical shape to its plan to construct multi-storey parking plazas in the capital to overcome the parking problem.

Like in all other cities, traffic issue is surfacing in the capital. With the increase in population, the needs of consumers are also augmenting, causing much commercial activity in the city.

The shortage of parking space in Blue Area and other major markets of the city, including Aabpara, Super, Jinnah Super and Karachi Company, is not only aggravating traffic problems but also increasing car-lifting incidents in the capital.

Due to shortage of a proper parking place in Blue Area, people park their vehicles far away from their offices, which wastes time.

Most of the people park their vehicles on the roadsides, which often results in traffic jams.

CDA spokesman Ramzan Sajid told APP that the authority’s planning wing had started work on to construction of parking plazas, but they had not yet finalised the project.

According to the plan, the authority was to construct seven parking plazas in different phases, he said.

In the first phase, the civic body had to construct three parking plazas in different parts of Blue Area.

The sites proposed by the CDA for the construction of plazas included one near Muslim Commercial Bank, another near Savour Food and third near a mosque located at some distance from Savour Food.
Continue reading

Lahore property prices largely stagnant over the past 5 years

KARACHI:

A glut of new real estate developments in Lahore over the past five years has created a housing surplus in the city, keeping prices throughout much of the provincial capital largely stagnant, according to new data released by Zameen.com.

As a precursor to creating a real estate price index, Zameen.com, one of the largest real estate websites in Pakistan, has compiled data on average real estate prices for Lahore since it began tracking data in 2007. The data is based on land and house price listings on Zameen.com. While the website is not able to keep track of actual sale prices of each property listed, the trends in listing prices are often a useful proxy for actual prices. It was this data that was shared with The Express Tribune and it does not paint a pretty picture for real estate investors in the city.

Average land prices in most middle class neighbourhoods in Lahore increased by a meagre 2.79% per year during the past five years, according to the data. During that time, inflation averaged 13.83% per year, meaning that most people who invested in land in the provincial capital lost money in real terms. Any property price increase they saw was wiped away by inflation.

House prices fared only marginally better, with the average price of a home in a middle or upper-middle income neighbourhood in Lahore increasing by a meagre 3.73% per year during the past five years, again well below inflation.

There was, nonetheless, some significant variation within house prices. The average 1,210-square-yard (two kanals, in local parlance) house in middle and upper-middle income neighbourhoods in Lahore saw its prices rise by only 3.42% per year during the five years between 2007 and 2012. The average price increase for a one kanal (605 square yard) house in those neighbourhoods rose by an even worse 2.35% per year, according to Zameen.com’s data.

Property prices towards the lower end of the spectrum – 10 marlas (303 square yards) – rose by an average of 5.3% per year during the period covered by Zameen.com’s data, which suggests that demand among the lower end of the middle class remains more robust.

These property price growth rates are not the entirety of a real estate investor’s returns on his or her investment, of course. There is also rental yield, the annual rent received from a property divided by its total price. Data on the rental yields in Lahore are not currently available, but it seems highly unlikely that yields would be high enough to beat the inflation rate over the past five years.

It is also important to recognise that the averages do not mean that any individual investor would not have been able to beat inflation, or even make good money. Indeed, the data suggests that patterns across Lahore are far from uniform.

Buyers of property in Bahria Town, Valencia Housing Society, and Wapda Town saw their property prices increase by an average of 10.76%, 8.06%, and 7.68% per year respectively. Somewhat surprisingly, Gulberg houses fared the worst: prices actually declined even in nominal terms by an average of 7.66% per year, though in that case, it may simply be that the higher-end properties in Gulberg are no longer on sale and thus no longer show up in the average for the neighbourhood.
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KMC building four flyovers without Sepa approval

KARACHI, Dec 23: The work on five flyovers — one on Sharea Faisal and four on Shahrah-i-Pakistan — being constructed by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) is under way in full swing and expected to be completed within next three months, officials said.

However, sources told Dawn that the construction work on the four flyovers being constructed on the Shahrah-i-Pakistan was illegal as the civic agency had not yet obtained an approval of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) from the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa), which was mandatory and had to be obtained before starting a work on any project.

Attending a review meeting on flyovers on Sunday, KMC administrator Mohammad Hussain Syed said that the 570 meter long Jinnah terminal flyover being constructed on Sharea Faisal would be completed by the end of next month while the four flyovers being constructed on the Shahrah-i-Pakistan would be completed by March.

He said that flyovers at Malir-15 and Kala Board would be constructed to make Sharea Faisal signal free for which Rs24 million was reserved in the budget.

He said that the construction work on Mehran Hotel underpass and Shaheen Complex flyover would also be started soon.

The sources told Dawn that the work on the four Shahrah-i-Pakistan flyovers was being carried out illegally as Sepa had not yet approved the EIA of the project.

They said that the KMC had not yet submitted the EIA report with Sepa, which after evaluating it and holding a public hearing could take a decision on it.

They said that the KMC had started the work and it was only after the media had highlighted the issue that the KMC was carrying out illegal construction without the Sepa approval that the Sepa issued notices to the KMC to get the approval and the KMC hired a consultant to carry out the EIA study, which was still under way.
Continue reading

Political influence stops RDA from action

RAWALPINDI  – Construction sans approved building plan has been on the rise in around a dozen housing schemes but Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) has failed to take stern action against violators due to political influence.

RDA could add millions of rupees to its kitty in the head of building plan violation but officials kept silent over the issue.

Sources said that construction without building plan was rampant in the housing scheme but RDA has failed to stop illegal construction and punish violators for the same. RDA official on condition not to be named told INP that crackdown against building plan violations would not only generate millions of rupees for the body but also stop the illegal practice. “Political influence is the biggest impediment in the operation against building plan violation. RDA officials get suspended whenever they take action against violators after political figure make telephone calls,” he added.

He said that housing schemes under the control of RDA were also found on the same page as illegal construction could not be stopped there. It should be mentioned here that stern crackdown against illegal construction could prove a ‘money spinning process’ for RDA which will ultimately help the body to finance various pending uplift project in the garrison city.

Meanwhile, The Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) during anti-encroachment drive issued challans to more than 100 shopkeepers in different areas of the city. According to sources, the anti-encroachment staff under the supervision of incharge Fiaz Khan conducted operation in various areas of Rawalpindi city including Chungi No 22 and Tench Bhatta. The RCB confiscated three trucks, several hand pushcarts and many other commodities placed outside the limits of shops.

The anti-encroachment officials issued challans to more than a hundred shopkeepers who had illegally occupied the footpaths and space other than limits of their shops.

On the other hand citizens have expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of anti-encroachment staff, saying it was only doing paper work and no practical steps have been taken to resolve the issue on permanent basis.

They urged the CEOs to pay surprise visit to various bazaars of the city on weekly basis. Continue reading

D-13 case: poor coordination puts CDA chief in trouble

ISLAMABAD, Dec 20: Poor coordination among top officials of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) regarding allotment of plots in D-13 put its chairman in an awkward situation before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday.

When Chief Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman took up a contempt of court petition filed by the affected people of D-13, Syed Tahir Shahabaz, the CDA chief, claimed that neither the layout plan nor any allotment in the sector had been made so far.

His claim was, however, challenged by Raja Inam Ameen Minhas, the counsel for the 29 petitioners. The counsel not only produced the allotment letters of plots but also pointed out that on December 6, 2012, Ghulam Sarwar Sandhu, the then CDA director general planning, had admitted before the court that the layout plan had been completed over a year back.

To avoid criminal proceedings, the CDA chief has to satisfy the court about the matter on Friday.

According to the allotment letters, the chief executive of Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) was among those allotted plots. Sources in the CDA said a plot had also been allotted to former inspector general of police Wajid Ali Durrani in April last year. They claimed that at least 16 allotment letters had been issued after the approval of the layout.

The CDA announced the award of D-13 in August 2008 and the affected owners of the land in the villages of Bhaker Fateh Buksh, Sarisaral, Dherak Mohri, Maira Sumber Aku, Maira Sumber Jaffer and Thala Syedan were offered one kanal developed plot against four kanal raw land in the sector.

In 2009, when the CDA failed to compensate the affected owners, they moved the IHC, which on February 2, 2009, directed the civic agency to compensate them within two months.

After the CDA did not comply with the court orders, a contempt of court plea was moved in the same year which was disposed of on June 6 after the CDA gave an undertaking that the layout plan would be completed in three months that would enable the
authority to compensate the villagers.

When the authority could not allot plots to the affectees, the villagers filed another contempt of court plea in November.

A senior Capital Development Authority official on the condition of anonymity said member planning Syed Mustafain Kazmi and member estate Shaista Sohail had provided wrong information to the CDA chief.

He said both the officers had recently assumed the charge of their offices and due to poor coordination with their subordinates could not gather proper information.

Barrister Masroor Shah, the CDA chief legal adviser, told Dawn that the legal directorate was examining the matter and would provide factual details to the court on Friday. Continue reading

11 new pedestrian bridges being built

KARACHI, Dec 20: The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation is building pedestrian bridges at 11 locations and work on a few of them has already started while all the bridges will be completed within a couple of months, a KMC statement issued on Thursday said.

It added that the bridges were being built to stop road accidents and help people cross various roads where the movement of traffic was very high.

The selected sites, according to the statement, included Sharea Faisal near New Jinnah terminal flyover, Stadium Road near Khatoon-i-Pakistan College and Aga Khan Hospital, Shaheed-i-Millat Expressway near Iqra University, Shaheed-i-Millat Expressway near Azam Basti, Shaheed-i-Millat Expressway near Manzoor Colony, Gulistan-i-Johar near Darul Sehat Hospital, Rashid Minhas Road near KDA Flats, Korangi No 4 near Government College for Women, M.A. Jinnah Road near Humdard Hospital and Capri Cinema, Nawab Siddique Ali Khan Road near Farooq-i-Azam Mosque and Shah Waliullah Road near Café Today.

KMC administrator Mohammad Hussain Syed while visiting a model pedestrian bridge being constructed near the Khatoon-i-Pakistan College on Stadium Road on Thursday said that the bridge sites had been selected after consultation with experts of traffic engineering and conducting surveys by departments concerned.

He said that proper lighting arrangements on these pedestrian bridges would be made to help people using these bridges during the night, the statement added.

He said work on some places, including the Khatoon-i-Pakistan College, Gulistan-i-Johar near Darul Sehat Hospital, Rashid Minhas Road near KDA Flats and Korangi No 4 Government College for Women, had already started while at other places it would be started soon.

He directed officials concerned to increase the speed of construction work of new pedestrian bridges and repair work of those pedestrian bridges that had broken down and were in a poor condition. Continue reading

Building control body Punjab govt jumps the ‘warning signals’

LAHORE, Dec 20: The Punjab government is bent upon establishing the Divisional Building Control Authority despite objections by its own departments that are declaring it an arrangement that will add to the confusion.

The draft law of the authority has reportedly been approved by the Punjab Assembly’s relevant standing committee. Sources on Thursday hinted at its adoption during the current session.

The government had decided to establish the authority under direction from the Supreme Court which wanted to end confusion about building control in the province being caused by the fact that the function was being simultaneously performed by the district governments and the development authorities.

The departments concerned and some legal experts in the government are declaring the new arrangement no solution to the problem.

According to them, building control is the function of the district governments under the Local Government Ordinance 2001 which is still in force. But the development authorities, mainly the Lahore Development Authority, continued to share the job with the district governments (TMAs) in spite of the fact that they had to come under the administrative and financial control of the district governments under the same law.

The development authorities were never put under the district governments because the rulers had been using their income and manpower useful for themselves. Continue reading