Booming business: In Islamabad, elite schools breaking land use laws

About 40% of city’s private schools illegally operating in houses; CDA unmoved.

Danish Hussain December 03, 2013
About 40% of city’s private schools illegally operating in houses; CDA unmoved. DESIGN: FAIZAN DAWOOD.


Home schooling means not going to a formal education institute during your school years and instead getting lessons at home from tutors. However, in the capital of Pakistan, elite private schools are essentially ‘home schools’.

According to a Capital Administration and Development Division’s survey, out of 967 private educational institutes in Islamabad, while a recent report compiled by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) says some 378 are established in residential units in violation of land use rules. Most such schools lack the facilities commonly associated with schools, such as playgrounds, well-stocked libraries and labs.

The CDA report also put the total number of non-conforming users of residential units across Islamabad at 2,057.

Much like their predecessors, the current CDA management seems to have no plan to deal with this issue, apart from keeping mum.

“To maintain files and to show performance, the CDA repeatedly serves notices on violators, but educational institutes are always treated exceptionally,” said a CDA Planning Wing official, adding that notices are not served to the owners who knowingly rent out their houses for the establishment of educational institutes.

The report indicates 132 educational institutes are being run in residential units in F-series sectors, including 44 in Sector F-8, 41 in Sector F-10, 24 in Sector F-11, 16 in Sector F-7, and seven in Sector F-6.

Similarly, 105 housing units at G-series sectors are under the occupation of educational institutes, including 27 in Sector G-10, 22 in Sector G-9, 20 in Sector G-11, 16 in Sector G-6, 11 in Sector G-13, five in Sector G-8 and four  in Sector G-7.

Meanwhile, a total of 89 such violations occur in the I-series, including 51 in Sector I-10, 30 in Sector I-8 and eight in Sector I-9. In the four model villages of Islamabad, 52 houses are being used as educational institutes --- 26 in Humak, 11 in Shahzad Town, nine in Rawal Town and six in Margalla Town.

In the past, the CDA allowed the establishment of schools in residential areas but made it mandatory for the owners to submit no-objection certificates from the neighborhood stating that members of the respective locality have no problem with the establishment of the educational institute in their neighborhood, said a senior Building Control Section official.

Even then, the official said, the owners were asked to select housing units along main or service roads, not those inside streets and congested residential areas.

The relaxed CDA rules were followed for some time, but later, the owners of many private institutes started ignoring them. “Today, no one cares to obtain an NOC from the neighbourhood… nor is the location rule being followed,” he added.

In a meeting between the heads of capital’s private educational institutes and CADD officials on November 21, this issue also came under discussion. During the meeting, Frobel’s International School Chief Financial Officer Tariq Javed was quoted by The Express Tribune as saying, “Commercial land is prohibitively expensive and we have limited land purchasing options. We thus opt for residential areas.”

Published in The Express Tribune, December 3rd, 2013.


Mustafa | 10 years ago | Reply

The law is the law. Government needs to execute its laws, even if they are basic. Current lawlessness is due to the lack of Government responsibility today.

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