Cutting out the middle man: Civic agency ‘encroaches’ own cricket ground

CDA planning wing carved out five residential plots and sold them off.


Danish Hussain March 30, 2015
Residents of the area only realised what was going on when a CDA land survey directorate team visited the ground and tried to demarcate the land. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:


One of the prime duties of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) is to protect the state land from land grabbers, but who will protect the residents when the city managers themselves become encroachers and violate their own laws.


In an apparent violation of the city’s master plan and numerous Supreme Court judgments, the civic agency has carved out a number of new residential plots from a sizable portion of land designated for a cricket ground.

The five residential plots created by the CDA Planning Wing on the side of a cricket ground in Sector F-11/1 have already been sold during a recent land auction.

Residents of the area only realised what was going on when a CDA land survey directorate team visited the ground and tried to demarcate the land to determine new boundaries for the ground and mark areas for the plots. Huge outcry from the residents followed.

Following the protest, civic agency staffers abandoned demarcation work halfway.

The residents have alleged that the CDA was trying to encroach on a sizable portion of the ground, adjacent to Street 73 in Sector F-11/1.

So far, investigations into the issue by CDA high-ups suggest that the master plan of Sector F-11/1, also available with The Express Tribune, does not identify any residential or commercial plots at the location under discussion.

According to the master plan for the sector, the size of the cricket ground is 373,920 square feet.

“It can be confirmed that these plots are newly-created as drawings (design sketches) for the area do not show any plots in close vicinity to the cricket ground,” said a senior planning wing officer.

But it has yet to be confirmed, he said, that if the newly created plots had been carved out of waste land or the cricket ground.

So far, the planning wing officials claim that the plots were created out of waste land, located between the cricket ground and the bank of a seasonal stream passing through the area.

“The CDA’s claims can only be verified by carrying out fresh demarcation of the cricket ground to see if the ground’s dimensions match the master plan or if they have been reduced,” the official said.

Tassadaq Hussain Shah, a representative of citizens of the area, said the community would protect its sporting facility at every cost. “We will not allow them to squeeze the cricket ground’s area,” Shah added.

He said the community was also considering filing a petition with the court against the CDA’s “illegal move”.

Shah also led a delegation of locals which met with the CDA administration member the other day.

“We have been assured by the CDA that the sanctity of sporting facility will be protected by all means,” Shah said.

Director-General Sports and Culture Asif Shahjahan told The Express Tribune that the sports wing was trying to get more information on the newly-created plots.

“If these plots were created out of the cricket ground’s land, the ground will definitely be shifted to some other area,” Shahjahan said. He said the authority was considering options to resolve the issue in consultation with area residents.

In response to a question, he said, the CDA planning wing of the CDA was the appropriate authority to comment on the exact status of the plots.

Urban Planning Director Ijaz Sheikh said he did not have firsthand information on the issue, but the available information does suggest problems with the status of the plots.

“It has been brought to our knowledge that someone has challenged the issue in a court of law,” Sheikh said, adding that the CDA would prepare its response after consulting the related documents and the national reference manual.

Published in The Express Tribune, March  31st,  2015.

 

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