ISLAMABAD: Around half of all demands for the 500,000 low-cost houses have come from the federal capital, a city which has seen its population double from 800,000 to over two million over the past two decades.
This was disclosed during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Housing and Works which met at the Parliament House on Tuesday. The meeting was chaired by Senator Mir Kabeer Shahi.
During the meeting, the National Party senator from Balochistan complained that the government has not given the committee sufficient information regarding the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme.
The housing secretary said that all such schemes in the past had failed because the project was not prepared as per the public demand.
He added that thus far, they received a demand for building some 500,000 houses from seven different districts of the country. However, the district leading all others was the federal capital, from where they had received requests to build some 230,000 houses from the federal capital under the scheme.
The committee directed to provide complete information regarding the project after Eidul Fitr during a single-agenda meeting.
Moreover, the committee was told that a nationwide survey at the Union Council (UC) level will start after Eidul Fitr with the help of the National Database and Regulatory Authority (NADRA).
The committee also discussed the Federal Government Employees Housing Authority Bill 2019.
Housing Secretary Imran Zaib said that he will be the ex-officio chairman of the proposed authority under the bill. At this Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Khanzada Khan suggested that an elected public representative should be the head of this authority.
The bureaucrats from the housing foundation, though, argued that a public representative cannot become the head of the authority as per directions issued by the Prime Minister’s office. Thereafter, the committee unanimously passed the bill.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Chaudhary Tanvir Khan said that the government should ensure that it gains something from the project and it is not a complete waste.
The housing secretary stated that there were a number of foreign investors who had expressed their interest in investing billions of dollars in this project.
He added the investors were also ready to provide housing loan for up to 25 years under this programme.
During the meeting, Shahi asked whether the government was evicting residents of the 670 houses of the Wehdad Colony of Quetta. To this, the housing secretary replied that the colony was a provincial project and does not fall under the ambit of the ministry.
However, he explained that the provincial government had asked the ministry for a joint venture on the colony.
The chairman noted that a 100-member delegation of residents from the colony were perturbed while the committee was completely unaware of their problems.
He added that if the colony was a joint project between the provincial government and the federal ministry, then that would mean there is a quota for federal employees in it.
Zaib said that 2,200 units will be built in the colony over 90 acres of land. He added they will also start a project for officers in Basic Pay Scale (BPS) grade 17 to 22.
The housing secretary further said that the provincial government was overseeing the Gwadar housing project where some 4,000 apartments will be constructed after the land is acquired.
He said that memberships for the project are open and that they have thus far received some 7,000 applications. The winners will be selected through a lucky draw.
Further, the housing secretary said that a thousand units will be built in a housing project in Kuchlak but the project size has been doubled to 2,200 on the directions of the prime minister.
He added they have received some 7,500 applications for this project and apartments will be awarded following a similar procedure to the one followed for the Gwadar scheme.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2019.