ISLAMABAD: The top civic body of the federal capital came under intense criticism in the top court on Tuesday as Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar declared that the body was neither able nor skilled to tackle issues of the city but was busy making money.
This was remarked as the top jurist headed a bench of the Supreme Court (SC) which heard a case relating to encroachment and illegal construction in the suburban Bani Gala neighbourhood of Islamabad.
During Tuesday’s hearing, the Additional Attorney General Nayyar Abbas Rizvi submitted a report about unplanned structures in Bani Gala on behalf of the Capital Development Authority (CDA).
The official added that Prime Minister Imran Khan has submitted an application and a map to get his house regularised.
He added that according to the 1960 map of the capital, streets are shown in zone IV of the capital. The map, however, was altered in 1992 and then again in 2010 and housing societies were allowed in some areas of the zone.
Despite that, he said that there were large swathes of uninhabited land in the area which can be saved
At this CJP Nisar remarked that where there are no roads, roads need to be built. A sewerage system also needs to be built. But all this requires land and the CDA is neither able nor skilled to execute this project.
Where will the funds come to execute this project, CJP Nisar said, adding that projects are not built by just writing them on a piece of paper.
Rizvi responded by saying that funds raised from regularizing illegal constructions in Bani Gala will be used for this purpose.
The CJP hoped that with a new Pakistan being built, the CDA would set up a network of underground power lines or trains. However, he noted that even for that land was required and that the CDA has yet to submit any plans for this yet.
The other option was to just regularise illegal constructions by imposing a fine.
Lawyer Ayesha Hamid argued that land and properties in Bani Gala cannot be regularised like this. She contended that the charges for regularisation land were quite high. Poor people who had inherited lands from their forefathers do not have the money to pay the charges and would probably have to sell their inherited land just to pay the regularisation charges.
At this, the CJP remarked that if someone does not pay the amount due, then their illegal construction will be demolished.
The court, however, lowered the land transfer charges from five per cent of land value to 2.5 per cent, with CJP Nisar remarking that this would benefit the entire area.
Moreover, CJP Nisar remarked that any further construction in the area will be done as per the CDA’s rules and regulations and after securing permission from the civic body while the role of the environmental protection agency remaining intact.
The chief justice further noted that constructions in Zone-I cannot be regularised. At this Hamid noted that a lot of poor people live in Zone-I and that CDA should check if constructions in the zone can be regularised.
Hamid went on to say that the poor always received relief from this court.
Lawyer Babar Awan said that court had framed five points. In this regard, regularisation of constructions is underway with the CDA receiving applications which are being scrutinised.
Hence, he argued that the top court’s suo motu notice to the extent of illegal constructions in Bani Gala has been completed.
Moreover, three surveys were conducted of the Korang River and orders issued in that regard, hence that matter has also been decided.
Awan noted that the third point was of the lease, the fourth of the botanical garden — where 70 per cent of the wall built.
The last issue was of sewerage, the water of which can be cleaned, Awan said.
Survey General Pakistan told the court that they have yet to receive Rs3.4 million for conducting a delimitation survey for Islamabad. At this, the CJP remarked that said that Survey General Pakistan is not for profit institution and that Rs3.4 million was too much.
The additional attorney general said that the CDA has approved Rs2.3 million for the survey. The court directed CDA to pay Rs2.3 million to the Survey General Pakistan within 10 days and summoned per kilometre charges from Survey General Pakistan for compensation.
The court further directed all relevant institutions to pay expenses for a survey of the Korang River within a month.
The case was adjourned until November 22.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 14th, 2018.
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