Land grabbing: CDA weighs proposals to regulate encroachments

Published: May 17, 2013
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The CDA stopped developmental work at Park Enclave as most of the land acquired for the project was under occupation of land grabber.  PHOTO: FILE.

The CDA stopped developmental work at Park Enclave as most of the land acquired for the project was under occupation of land grabber. PHOTO: FILE.

ISLAMABAD: 

Apparently failing to retrieve its lands from land grabbers, the capital’s civic agency is contemplating various proposals to enter into an arrangement with the encroachers allowing them to use the occupied land and pay revenue to the civic agency.

A proposal is also being considered to fence unused and unattended pieces of lands in and around the city to stop further encroachment.

According to the proposals, floated by the Estate Wing of the Capital Development Authority (CDA), unutilised and unattended lands must be fenced by using bamboos which are durable, cost-effective and not prone to invasion.

“The fenced areas should be given to locals or outsiders for cultivation, unless they are to be used by the authority. The CDA can generate handsome revenue by leasing out its unattended land for cultivation purposes,” Member Estate Shaista Sohail said while sharing the proposal with The Express Tribune on Thursday.

She said that currently residents of different areas across Islamabad had been using the CDA land to grow crops without paying a single rupee to the authority.

Sohail said if the proposal was adopted, the CDA will have an alternative source of income and the land would be saved from further encroachment.

“Where cultivation is not possible, such chunk of land should be turned into playgrounds,” she said.

Since its inception, the CDA has been facing the menace of encroachment of its land by the influential persons and land grabbers affiliated with political parties, civil and military bureaucracy, local landlords and traders.

As per CDA estimates, currently 6,819 acres (54,552 kanals) of the authority’s land worth Rs100 billion had been under adverse possession.

Time and again, the CDA made strategies to retrieve encroached land but, every time, it ended up failing to reclaim it.

During a hearing of a suo motu case in the Supreme Court pertaining to grabbing of land by a politician in Bani Gala, the authority had conceded that several acres of its land had been under cultivation (occupation) of locals and the CDA was charging nothing from it.

Similarly, recently the CDA stopped developmental work at Park Enclave, a housing society, as most of the land acquired for the project was under occupation of land grabbers.

The city managers recently informed the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat that the developmental work on the project had been stopped as residents of adjoining areas of Park Enclave have cultivated wheat crops within the boundary wall of the housing society.

The committee was informed that the CDA will resume work on the project by the end of May, when locals will harvest their crops.

Similarly, to address the encroachment at marketplaces, the proposal envisages establishing “regulated and licenced marketplaces” at Taramari Chowk, Khanna Pul, Rawal Dam Chowk, Sangjani, Pirwadhai Mor, Faizabad and Bhara Kahu.

“At these markets, fresh vegetables, fruits, fish and other edible items of daily use will be available to consumers,” Sohail said.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 17th, 2013.

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