Unauthorised constructions: CDA mulls one-time amnesty for builders

Plan likely to be submitted to apex court today

Shahzad Anwar February 22, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Even as it continues to fail in enforcing building regulations and prevent illegal buildings from being built in the capital, the civic body is now mulling plans to grant a one-time amnesty to all unauthorised and unregulated structures constructed in zone-III and zone-IV of the city.

Unauthorised and unregulated construction found in  Zone-III included those in Kot Hathyal and Bhara Kahu — areas north of Murree Road, Bani Gala area in Mouza Mohra Noor and those within a 1,000 feet on either side of the Korang River.

In Zone-IV, these include constructions in Kot Hathyal and Bhara Kahu south of Murree Road.

Sources in the Capital Development Authority (CDA) say that the amnesty plan proposes that settlements may be regularised provided they comply with essential health and safety standards and pay the stipulated fees and penalties.

Moreover, these settlements will be provided with an integrated sewerage system — provided that they pay the proportionate development charges together with their settlements. Moreover, sewerage treatment plants will be set up so that the discharge of hazardous effluent is controlled.

Additionally, a solid waste management system will be extended to these settlements, but their provision would be linked with payment of conservancy charges.

Previously, the CDA had decided to link the provision of utility connections in the capital such as electricity and gas, to No-Objection Certificates (NOC) issued by the body. The move was part of their plan to dissuade further construction in the capital in violation of regulations and to perhaps force builders of unregulated structures to approach the CDA first.

In 1980, the federal government had issued a notification declaring that area falling within two kilometres from the highest watermark of Rawal Lake, will be a part of the Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP).

It followed on the Islamabad Wildlife Ordinance 1979, which had strictly prohibited clearing land of trees and plants for any purpose in the park.

In May 2017, the CDA had submitted a survey report to the Supreme Court which revealed that as many as 122 illegal or unauthorised buildings were either under construction or their structural work had been completed.  Per the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) zoning regulations, these constructions were liable to be demolished.

Sources privy to the matter suggest that CDA is likely to submit these suggestions to the Supreme Court on Thursday when apex court resumes hearing in the suo motu case regarding unchecked and unplanned construction in Bani Gala, the large-scale felling of trees in the area and pollution of Rawal Lake by sewage.

The SC had taken notice on the matter after Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan wrote a letter to the apex court, asking it to probe constructions in the area.

During the course of the case, the CDA had claimed that Imran’s sprawling 300-kanal residence was among the buildings which had been ‘illegally raised’ in the Bani Gala area.

The top court had subsequently sought details of Imran’s property including the permission papers. 

Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2018.