The journalists at the ground-breaking ceremony of the Defense Housing Authority (DHA) City Karachi (DCK) were persistent in their queries about why civilians are not given the same concession on plots as military personnel at army-run projects.
Although the Corps Commander Lt General Zahirul Islam hinted at a concession for the public, the DHA administrator, Brigadier Aamer Raza, acknowledged no such information. “We can look into it when more plots are auctioned in the second phase of the project after 2016,” said Raza. Spread over 11,640 acres, the DCK is located 44 kilometers from Karachi along the Super Highway. Around 25,000 plots, measuring from 160 to 2,000 square yards, have already been sold.
The project was started to facilitate the 10,000 plots needed for army officers, said Raza. “DHA develops for defence officials, yet civilians were allowed to participate in the auction for the first time. This gesture should be appreciated.” DHA will hold a ballot within the next four weeks for the allotment of the first 9,000 DCK plots to investors, who will be able to move in by 2016. The entire project will be completed by 2030. Another 25,000 plots will be auctioned in four to five years.
Officials said that after the setback of Emaar, Creek Marina and Cogen Power plant, DHA has prepared a financial model. The model will ensure that the escalation of the construction cost is covered by the interest earned from the sale of the 25,000 plots, said the chief project consultant, Arif Osmani.
It’s not personal, it’s business
A standard 500 square yard plot in DCK has been sold to civilians for Rs2 million, whereas the army officers paid Rs1 million.
Following the project’s inauguration and its initial ground work, the price has started to move up, said a real estate consultant, Muhammad Shafi Jakvani. “The 500 square yard plots are now being sold for over Rs2 million.”
The DCK project director, Brig. (retd) M Rafique, said that investors will be happy to know that sufficient quantity of water has been found in the underground aquifers. “By 2016, the water requirement will be five million gallons per day and we will be able to manage that easily.” According to officials, the residents of the project won’t be burdening the country’s scarce gas reserves as solar geysers will be mandatory.
A vast piece of land has been allotted for windmills and conventional thermal power plants. The DCK requires 50 MW within the next four years.
The entire cost of DCK is estimated at $1 billion. DHA hopes to attract $3 billion in investment through businesses like hospitals and educational institutions. Thirteen trams and 79 buses will operate for the residents to commute within DCK. Two theme parks, a hospital with nuclear medicine facilities, a university, 20 colleges and 40 schools have also been planned for the project.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2012.
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