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Campaign against agro farms: Owners get a breather

June 27, 2013

ISLAMABAD, June 26: The Supreme Court on Wednesday restrained the Capital Development Authority (CDA) from demolishing the excess constructions raised by owners of at least 201 agro-farmlands.

The owners of agro-farmlands have ended up building palatial abodes in excess to the sanctioned perimeters.

A three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry is seized with a controversy relating to the conversion of the leased farmlands into palatial farmhouses where even marriage halls have sprung up.

On April 18, the court had ordered the CDA to restore all the 504 farmhouses to the status as envisaged in the original lease deal.

On Wednesday a number of owners of these farmlands mainly womenfolk appeared before the Supreme Court to inform that they have raised the construction with the permission of the CDA.

Though the original lease deal allowed raising single storey construction on a covered area to 4,850 square feet, a CDA’s board meeting on December 14, 2004 legalised the construction of infrastructure on the covered area of 12,500 square feet.

However the decision was reverted to the original limit of 4,850 square feet in a recent meeting of the board.

Advocate Munir Paracha, assisted by CDA’s Member Planning Mustafain Kazmi and Director Estate Management Aslam Chaudhry, told the court that out of a total of 504 farmlands, the owners of 201 farmhouses have done construction beyond the 4,850 square feet whereas 19 others exceeded beyond 12,500 square feet.

Mustafain Kazmi explained to the court that the CDA board following April 18, 2013 ruling of the apex court had decided to withdraw the concession of raising extra constructions.

“It is wrong on the part of the CDA to increase the area for construction in the land from 4,580 sq feet to 12,500 square feet in 2004,” observed the bench.

The bench ordered the CDA chairman to furnish individual list of those agro-farms that have covered areas measuring 4,580 square feet, 12,500 square feet in two weeks.

After the list is received the court may order issuance of notices through CDA to the owners of those farmlands who have raised the construction more than the covered area of 12,500 sq feet.

The court also directed the Attorney General Munir A Malik to get instructions from the government as the federal government could only rectify the violation of the master plan of the capital city.

When his legal opinion was sought the AG suggested the court to adhere to the principal of “locus poenetantia” meaning thereby condoning even if the lawful authority (CDA) has exercised its power irregularly by giving legal protection for the time being.