ISLAMABAD: Instead of taking action against illegal housing societies, it seems the Capital Development Authority (CDA) is protecting their interest.
Some housing societies have even launched their projects on private land in the Margalla Hills where the establishment of housing schemes is banned.
One of the illegal housing societies has even constructed a link road on the CDA land from the main double road of D-12. The CDA had earlier closed the road but surprisingly the society reopened it a month ago. The CDA remains unmoved apparently to facilitate the housing scheme to sell plots.
Seven illegal societies operating in restricted Margalla Hills area; one has built a road on CDA land
There are over 100 illegal housing societies in the federal capital. According to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) documents available with Dawn, seven of the illegal societies are operating in Margalla Hills, the Zone III of Islamabad.
In a report submitted to the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice in April this year, NAB had recommended that the CDA should take immediate steps to check further changes to the landscape of Margalla Hills National Park.
Later, the committee presented its recommendations to the Senate, which adopted the report and asked the civic agency to take immediate steps by initiating the land acquisition proceedings in Zone III.
However, so far, no action has been taken. Now it seems the CDA is facilitating an illegal housing scheme, North Ridge, operating in the Margalla Hills. About eight months ago, the CDA had closed the road constructed by the society from the main double road of D-12 to the illegal project site.
However, when the road was reopened recently, the prices of plots in the housing society increased manifold. The sale and purchase of the plots is going on but the CDA is playing the role of a silent spectator.
Some officials of the authority alleged that an officer working in the CDA on deputation was protecting the interest of housing societies.
“Unfortunately, it’s an old habit of the CDA to keep mum over any illegal housing society till the citizens purchase plots when it swings into action. An ordinary buyer does not know that this road is illegal and has been constructed on the CDA land,” said an official who requested not be named.
However, CDA spokesperson Malik Saleem denied that the authority’s officer/officials were involved in the reopening of the road. He said he had no knowledge about the road. “At the moment, I can’t say whether the road has been opened or not,” he said.
Meanwhile, an official of the CDA enforcement directorate, requesting not to be named, told Dawn that twice in the past the CDA had closed the road.
“The road was constructed on the CDA land months back. We had closed it down to discourage the housing society but last month the society reopened it. I will check why they have opened it again,” he said.
The NAB documents stated that there were seven illegal housing societies operating at Margalla Hills: North Ridge, Ali Town, Al Rayan Residency (not present on the site), Major Makhdoom Society, Green Hills, (not available on the site but there is still a signboard in front of a house), Arcadia and Margalla Housing Green Meadows.
NAB had initiated inquiries against North Ridge and some other housing schemes.
About the North Ridge, NAB had stated: “Land is owned by private individuals, no private housing scheme is allowed in this zone, CDA has failed to stop development on site and construction of the houses, land was not acquired by CDA, neither CDA has any plan to acquire the land from individuals, inquiry initiated against relevant CDA officials, and town owner under NOA-1999.”
The documents said the CDA officials were directed to initiate measures to stop further development of the scheme. The NAB passed similar directives about Margalla Meadows Housing Scheme.
But instead of following the directives issued by NAB and later by the Senate, the CDA initiated no action.
When contacted, Member Planning and Design Asad Mehboob Kayani said according to the CDA zoning regulations no housing scheme was allowed in Zone III, Margalla Hills. “We will hold an inquiry to ascertain why the housing scheme reopened the road and if it had any backing from the CDA officials,” he said.
“Upon your inquiry, I have checked from my staff and I’m being told that the road was reopened a month ago and there were some litigation. But let me assure you, we will close the road again,” he said.
About the Senate report on the 100 illegal housing societies, he said: “The new management of the CDA is very serious to implement the report in letter and spirit. We have placed the report before the CDA Board, and are working on it vigorously,” he said.