Not in the master plan: ‘Who granted permission for housing schemes?’

Senate panel seeks briefing from FIA, NAB on illegal colonies in federal capital


News Desk October 23, 2018
Representational image. PHOTO: REUTERS

With the federal capital’s master plan not reflecting any space for housing societies in the city, a Senate panel on Monday asked which authority had granted permission to build them.

This question was raised in a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior in its meeting at the Parliament House on Monday. The committee was chaired by former interior minister Senator Rehman Malik.

With the recent news reports suggesting that there were as many as 100 illegal housing societies in the capital, the issue was raised during Monday’s meeting.

Malik asked about issues relating to the establishment of the private housing societies in the federal capital and implementation of the by-laws in the rural areas of the city.

Capital Development Authority (CDA) Chairman Afzal Latif told the committee that as many as 41 housing societies in the capital had obtained no-objection certificates (NOC) from the authority.

However, when the layout plans of these societies were examined, the permission granted to some of them were cancelled since they were not implementing the CDA’s by-laws are apart from violating the capital’s master plan.

At this, Senator Malik observed that the establishment of housing societies in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) was not part of the city’s master plan. Hence, the question arises who first granted the NoC for a housing society in the city.

Noting the mushroom growth of illegal housing societies in ICT, the committee’s directed that a separate meeting on the issue should be held in which officials of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) will be asked to brief the committee about illegal housing societies in the capital and the action taken against them thus far.

He also appreciated the CDA for conducting operation against encroachment on the Kashmir Highway. Malik expressed annoyance over the authority’s failure to take disciplinary action against officers helping in illegal constructions.

CDA, IMC tussle

The committee also took up the longstanding dispute of powers, finances and resources between the CDA and the Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation (IMC).

The committee was told that in 2015, the IMC was established by the federal government as part of the local government system.

After its creation, a number of CDA’s departments were shifted to the IMC. The metropolitan corporation also got 10,425 workers of CDA’s 18,770 workers. Despite being transferred, the salaries of these employees are still pending with the CDA.

Latif further told the committee that the IMC has thus far raised a billion rupees funds but have been unable to utilize this money due to the absence of any procedure to spend it. Moreover, he said that the CDA is still providing the IMC money as payable loans under the instructions of the federal government.

Moreover, owing to the lack of coordination and clarity in the implementation of politics, a number of issues had surfaced.

Malik said that the issue of distribution of assets, resources, finances and administrative issues were creating problems for residents of ICT. A glaring example of this, the senator pointed out, were the wildfires which break out on the Margalla Hills every year.

He noted that each time a fire breaks out, city officials claim that there is a mafia which chops trees throughout the winter and sets trees on fire during the summer to make it seem as if the trees had burnt and were not stolen.

The senator said that thus far no one has been held responsible for such a large loss to the environment and the government. He directed the authorities to take action against the mafia involved in setting the hills on fire.

He further directed that the IMC and the CDA should resolve their differences. In this regard, he offered the Senate Standing Committee on Interior’s help and guidance.

Taking notice of contaminated drinking water in the federal capital, Malik directed that samples supplied from all sectors be tested at an accredited laboratory to determine whether the water is safe for consumption or not. 

Published in The Express Tribune, October 23rd, 2018.

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