CDA plans a new operation against owners of farmlands in Chak Shahzad

ISLAMABAD, Feb 7: In light of directives from the Supreme Court, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) plans to re-launch a new campaign against owners of agro-farmlands in Chak Shahzad area, who have violated their lease agreement with the authority.

A campaign was launched last month but CDA officials were met with resistance as many farms are owned by people of influence.

As reported earlier, some of the big names who have their farm houses in Chak Shahzad are former President Pervez Musharraf, former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, former Senate Chairman Mohammadmian Soomro, PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Senator Wasim Sajjad, former senator Dr Shahzad Waseem, Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Raja Nadir Pervez and several army generals and journalists.

In order to circumvent the problem, this time around, in the new campaign, a judicial officer will accompany the CDA team, to provide the operation with legal cover.The renewed drive will entail removing structures that the authority may discover
exceed the prescribed limits.

Regarding the lease agreement violations, a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry on Thursday heard the case.

According to the lease agreement the farmlands were supposed to be utilised for farming and poultry but some owners have built palatial farmhouses and marriage halls.

Director-General (DG) Land Control CDA Ghulam Mustafa assured the Supreme Court that the CDA intended to re-launch the inspection of different agro-farms and this time around would be accompanied by a judicial officer —a magistrate.

The reason for ensuring the presence of a magistrate was that in the last campaign, at least 15 farmlands denied access to CDA officers to inspect their premises.Despite the hurdles, CDA managed to recover Rs21.1 million by imposing fines on infrastructure built in excess of the legal cover, DG Land Control informed the court, adding that notices for cancellation of the plots had also been issued in some cases.

Important to note that legal cover area on which infrastructure can be built is 10,000 square feet, while violation of up to 12,500 square feet can be regularised after paying a fine. But anything in excess, the infrastructure would stand demolished.

DG Land Control informed the court that 44 houses violating the rules had already been demolished, adding that in three months the CDA would remove the remaining structures violating the rules.

But the bench was not amused by CDA’s performance.

“Why the CDA never takes an interest, unless the Supreme Court asks it to do so,” observed Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed emphasising that the authority should follow its own rules.

“Why people don’t understand that violations may get them into trouble,” the chief justice observed.

“The CDA has allowed construction of palaces and the entire concept of these farmlands has gone up in the air,” Justice Gulzar Ahmed lamented.

In its order, the Supreme Court regretted that though the case was pending for the last two years, no progress had been made so far.

“It is for the CDA to enforce its laws without intervention of the court but we have failed to understand why they wait for the orders of the court, despite flagrant violations of their bylaws,” observed the bench.

The court also ordered Chairman CDA Tahir Shahbaz to himself supervise the progress and complete the procedures without fail, in a month. The case will be taken up again on March 7. ends