For reasons unknown, city managers continue to delay the fencing off of hundreds of acres of undeveloped state land in Islamabad.
The Capital Development Authority (CDA) regularly complains about encroachments on unutilised and unattended land CDA, acquired decades ago for development into residential sectors, yet, the civic agency has also developed a reputation for ducking its head in the sand whenever pushed to take action against land grabbers.
In the financial year 2013-14, the CDA even made a budgetary allocation of Rs25 million to initiate fencing work, but the amount lapsed after the CDA failed to execute this project.
Now, for financial year 2014-15, Rs200 million — eightfold the previous allocation — has been allocated for fencing acquired land, but despite getting the necessary approval from the CDA-DWP months ago, the civic body has yet to act.
CDA records from 2010 show that 6,819 acres of acquired land across Islamabad are currently under ‘adverse possession’. These statistics were worked out after the Supreme Court of Pakistan took suo motu notice of land grabbing in Bani Gala.
Time and again, the CDA made strategies to retrieve its land, but these strategies remain limited to paper and the authority never bothered to implement them. Each of these plans went on to accomplish little-to-nothing.
According to the PC-I for the current plan, the authority is supposed to set up barbed wire fences for demarcation of acquired land meant to be developed into 13 proposed residential sectors. The Rs333.806 million project also includes installation of warning boards at acquired property.
According to the description of work, Rs279.618 million will be required for barbed wire fencing including boundary pillars and warning signs, while an additional Rs35.376 million is to be spent on the construction of a precast boundary wall between sectors D-12 and D-13, Rs7.24 million for environmental work in these sectors, and Rs9.360 wwmillion for the salaries of site guards.
In 2013, perhaps acknowledging the authority’s inability to secure its land, the estate wing had suggested than the CDA enter into arrangements with encroachers of acquired which allow the encroachers to ‘temporarily’ use the occupied land and pay in return revenue to the civic agency.
The encroachers to be targeted were those growing different crops on CDA land without paying a single penny.
This idea, however, was scrapped after senior agency officials felt such agreement would be tantamount to acknowledge the right of encroachers at authority’s land.
Since its inception, the CDA has been fighting a losing war against encroachments of its land by influential persons and land grabbers affiliated with political parties, civil and military bureaucracy, local landlords and traders.
Talking to The Express Tribune, CDA Estate Member Amer Ali Ahmad said the Cabinet Division had raised an objection over the cost of the project, but added that the issue has since been resolved and work on the project would initiate soon.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2014.