Govt launches crackdown against misuse of residential properties

More than 2,900 properties in residential schemes are being used for commercial purposes


Rizwan Asif December 04, 2020
PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE:

The provincial government has tightened the noose around individuals who use residential property for commercial activities.

According to details provided by the Punjab Housing and Town Planning Agency (PHATA), properties owned in government housing schemes have been used profusely by individuals for commercial purposes. The misuses, the department claims, has cost the provincial kitty billions.

Owners of more than 2,900 properties in government housing schemes in five districts are in arrears of Rs. 22 billion in commercial dues. Consequently, the housing department has launched a crackdown against such activities and has managed to recover Rs. 320 million.

Officials familiar with the matter said the department is now conducting a survey to find violators who are illegally using residential properties for commercial purposes.

While the department is considering further action against such individuals, it is still in the process of digitizing its services, including property records, future allotments, transfers, approval of maps and government payments.

The process had to be completed within 250 days. However, the department has not managed to scan more than 94,000 property documents. Now in its fifth year, the project has more than 175,000 records, that still need to be digitized.

According to the details, PHATA, under the administration of the housing department, has constructed a total of 169 housing schemes across the province since its inception and provided 175,000 plots to average white-collar citizens.

These properties, a survey revealed, are being used for commercial activities without any approval from the department.

The ongoing survey by the department has revealed a total of 3,000 buildings which are being used illegally for commercial purposes. More than 1,400 such violations were found in Faisalabad, 870 in Multan, 107 in Rawalpindi, 336 in Khushab and 175 in Bahawalpur.

Prime minister’s scheme

With Prime Minister Imran Khan’s announcement of a new housing scheme, the provincial government has expedited its efforts to resolve all pending issues related to properties. Both provincial and federal authorities are working together to ensure that such matters are resolved as soon as possible.

According to sources familiar with the matter, chairman of the New Pakistan Housing and Development Authority, Lt. Gen. (retd) Anwar Ali Haider, has attended an important meeting with Punjab government officials to iron out any issues that might cause delays in rolling out the prime minister’s flagship project.

After deliberation, the concerned departments in Punjab government are expected to provide their suggestion related to the application process of the new scheme, which once source said, will be screened on a district basis. A plan for the construction of the required residential units in the scheme is also being finalized.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2020.

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