Whose land is it anyway: Deed holders await access to their plots in Regi Model Town

Kokikhel tribes say they own the land


Saba Rani March 24, 2016
Construction site of Regi Model Town. PHOTO: TWITTER

PESHAWAR: The largest township scheme in Peshawar—Regi Model Town—was every citizen’s dream residence for the longest time, a literal dream.

The government advertised the mega housing scheme project as equipped with all basic amenities and modern facilities. Everyone wanted to buy plots and build houses in the town that promised housing, education and health in the same vicinity. However, even after the passage of two decades, Regi Model Town, situated close to University of Peshawar and Hayatabad, remains a disputed residential project and those allotted plots have yet to gain possession.

Evident failure

The mega project covering an area of 4,600 acres and compromising five zones with more than 30,000 plots was mostly allocated for government employees and families of police martyrs. Since the provision of natural gas, electricity, improved infrastructure, schools, hospitals, mosques were all guaranteed to be in close proximity with each other, the public at large was almost compelled to buy plots there.

Unfortunately it seems as if the project failed – those allotted plots from zones one, two and five of the town plan paid millions of rupees to the government but were still unable to construct on their land. They were given ownership papers but not the actual land where they could build houses.

While ownership of zones three and four was given to owners, they could not do much with their land as Regi Model Town still lacks basic facilities. On thousands of acres of land only 50 to 60 people have built houses so far.

Disillusioned

Residents and those who have deeds to the land expressed grave concern over the lack of facilities and have protested time and again to get access and ownership of their plots but in vain.

“When we were buying a plot here, we were told the area was going to be just like posh Hayatabad,” Sadaqat Khattak, a resident of Regi Model Town, said. Sadaqat added, “There are no civic amenities in the locality –no provision of natural gas, schools for children or clinic or hospital.”

Apart from the government’s indifference, the land the housing scheme is meant to be built on is disputed territory.

Kokikhel tribespeople have tried to protest, to get the government’s attention, as recently as this month. They say they have proof dating back to 1912 creating hurdles during the entire process.

Ali Akbar Afridi, president of Regi Bachao Tehreek, a campaign started by residents to get the attention of the government, told The Express Tribune there was embezzlement of funds involved in process. “When we approached the Kokikhel tribe, they said they did not have a single penny.” He suspected Peshawar Developmental Authority and Kokikhel tribal leaders had taken away all the money from the public.

When contacted, Minister for Local Government and Rural Development Inayatullah Khan told The Express Tribune, “Our government has started work on the development of this township at a rapid pace. We have allocated Rs2 billion to make better infrastructure and to provide facilities to Regi Model Town residents.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 25th, 2016.

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