The top civic body in the federal capital was slammed by a panel of senators for demolishing properties built on encroached land without issuing notices to the owners of these buildings, noting that the panel will now investigate and monitor the anti-encroachment drive.
This was stated by Senators during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior at the Parliament Lodges on Monday.
During the meeting, the chairman of the apex civic body of Islamabad, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the mayor of the local government, the Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation (IMC), briefed senators about the ongoing anti-encroachment drive in the city.
Senators expressed grave concerns that the CDA was demolishing shops, plazas, houses and other structures without giving any advance notice to the owners.
Committee’s chairman Senator Rehman Malik asked who had allowed government land to be encroached in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) in the first place.
He continued that it was officials of the CDA who had allowed people to build their shops, plazas, houses and outlets illegally on state land.
Malik, a former federal interior minister whose ministry oversaw CDA, said that strict action must be taken against those officers of CDA who had issued the illegal no-objection certificates (NOCs) and permission for people to build and run their business on government property.
The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) senator also expressed his annoyance over the action taken by the CDA against a foreign food outlet located on Kashmir Highway. Malik noted that the construction of the outlet had been previously approved by the CDA and but had now been demolished without even issuing any prior notice. Such actions, Malik said, give the country a bad name and actually push foreign investors away.
The committee chairman said that he appreciates the work done by the CDA but noted that the civic body was also responsible for preventing construction on government property — something which it had failed to do.
Malik said that the committee has been receiving a number of complaints from the victims of CDA’s encroachment drive and how the civic body had been violating the law by not issuing prior notices about the demolition.
He added that the committee will not allow anyone or any authority to violate the fundamental rights of the public and announced that the Senate panel will now investigate and monitor all action taken by the CDA against encroachers.
Expressing concerns over reports that CDA had also demolished some houses, Malik said that they will not allow anyone to make the poor homeless and that the government should provide shelter to the poor if they have to demolish their homes in the shanty towns and slums.
The committee chairman subsequently directed the CDA to submit a comprehensive report on the anti-encroachment drive and the action taken against other violations in the city, complete with the numbers and details of the people who have fallen victim to these drives.
He further asked the CDA to tell the committee about those who used political influence the CDA to build illegal buildings, adding that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) will be asked to take action against all CDA officials — past and present —who were responsible for either influencing or allowing illegal buildings to be built. Officials were will also be probed over how they had built up property abroad. Moreover, he said that the committee will hold a public hearing in December to listen to and address the reservations of the public on land grabbing, illegal allotment of government property and action against encroachment.
ICT Loan Bill 2017
The committee unanimously passed the Islamabad Capital Territory Prohibition of Interest on Private Loan Bills 2017.
The bill had been introduced by Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Chief Senator Sirajul Haq. Senator Chaudhary Tanvir Khan said that unless all Muslims follow Islam in letter and spirit, it will be impossible to improve the state of the entire Muslim Ummah. He further stated that Riba was a major cause for decline amongst Muslims.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2018.