A rare effort to take a principled stand on abiding the rules earned Capital Development Authority (CDA) officials an earful from a parliamentary panel on Monday. A standing committee forced the city managers to issue a no-objection certificate (NOC) to a private housing society for the development of land, despite the fact that the society does not control the required amount of land.
The Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat met to discuss problems with the issuance of an NOC to the Jammu and Kashmir Cooperative Housing Society in Sector G-15. Senator Kalsoom Perveen chaired the committee meeting.
The housing society is owned by a senior minister of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
CDA Member Planning and Design Mustafain Kazmi informed the committee that the management of the housing society had submitted a layout plan for the development of a housing scheme on an area of 2,600 kanals, while at present it only holds possession of 1,900 kanals on the site.
“The society not only faces shortage of 700 kanals, but has yet to submit the engineering design of the society and environmental protection certificate for phase-II,” Kazmi said, adding that the management also failed to mortgage 20 per cent of the society’s land in favour of the CDA.
He informed the committee that the required green area had also not been reserved in the proposed layout plan. “The CDA must abide by the authority’s bylaws on issuance of NOC to private housing societies. Keeping in view the stated violations on behalf of management of the society, the civic agency is unable to issue an NOC,” the official said.
However, Senator Kalsoom Perveen was apparently not interested in listening to the list of violations committed by the management of the society and insisted on issuance of the NOC at once.
“When [Ghulam Sarwar] Sandhu was the planning deputy director general, all of our requests were processed in a timely fashion. You have made this as complex as the Swiss Letter issue,” remarked the senator.
She even issued a thinly veiled threat to the CDA officers. “There are several issues related to CDA officers pending with this committee. I will see how you do not issue the NOC.”
Sandhu was removed from his post on court orders for his involvement in a number of controversial projects. He was later reinstated.
During the course of meeting, it also came to light that despite such violations by the society’s administration, the CDA issued a conditional layout plan on the recommendations of the same Senate committee.
“A conditional issuance of layout plan is of no use. The administration cannot carry out developmental activities on site, nor could they advertise their housing scheme in the press. Issue them an NOC,” Perveen insisted.
CDA Chairman Tahir Shahbaz observed that administration of the housing society wanted to make money off land they do not possess.
At this point, Cabinet Division Special Secretary Shahidullah Baig intervened and made it clear that the issuance of a conditional layout plan was in clear violation of CDA rules.
“The committee must not adopt a double-standard. The CDA cannot issue an NOC until the fulfilment of all requirements,” Baig said, to which Perveen replied with the claim that city managers had deliberately complicated the issue.
However, at this point, Kazmi said an NOC would be issued after the completion of all formalities.
The committee then directed the city managers to produce the complete record of NOCs and layout plans that the authority had issued to several private land developers.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2013.