Terms and conditions and other formalities mentioned in the application forms of the Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme seem to be keeping majority of applicants away from this project of the Punjab government near airport on the Burki Road.

The scheme, being executed by the Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC), has three kinds of apartments for the low-income people having no own house. They include 500 sq ft (one-bedroom), 600 sq ft (two-bedroom) and 700 sq ft (two-bedroom). The total price of apartments (500, 600 and 700 sq ft) in easy installments is Rs1.192m, Rs1.39m and Rs1.59m, respectively, with 20pc down payment of the total amount in advance.

According to clause-1 of the column, titled “other information” as mentioned on the front page of the form, anyone seeking an apartment will have to make 20pc down payment for each category within 30 days after verification of the documents. It clearly means that the 20pc down payment would be made as soon as the applicant is shown to be eligible. Similarly, the column, titled “Affidavit for Eligibility” states that an applicant and his family’s joint income must be less than Rs50,000 per month and his/her age shouldn’t be more than 55 years.

“It looks that either the drafters of the form desire to defame the government or the government itself wants to keep more and more applicants away from benefitting the scheme,” says one Imtiaz, who got a form to apply for an apartment. He said it was not fair that someone, already trying hard to get a house, should pay 20pc down payment in advance before balloting that takes months or years in such residential projects.

“How can I make the down payment when I don’t know I will be among the allottee of the apartment or not? It will be logical if the applicant’s name appears in balloting,” he added. Imtiaz also criticised the possession plan of the scheme that is 18 to 48 months.

“If this government can complete Rs30bn metro bus project in 11 months why it can’t complete this project within one year and why such a huge time is required for a project which is smaller than the metro bus,” he deplored.

Another applicant, Zahid, criticised the scheme over the condition related to income.

“If I calculate my father’s and my income, it is over Rs70,000 but we have been unable to have our own house for many years. Since we were waiting for such a scheme from government side, we are disappointed as the aforementioned condition declares us ineligible,” he explained.

He said those who made the application form for the housing scheme perhaps didn’t conduct a survey or assessment study before launching the project.

“There are many people whose income is over Rs50,000 and even Rs70,000 but they cannot buy a house,” he said, terming the condition of income a bid to deprive many people of the scheme.

Zahid also questioned the condition related to age (55 years) which makes anyone over 55 years ineligible. The government should think that why the people (over 55 years), who couldn’t own a house due to low income throughout their life, were being kept away from benefitting from this scheme.

“Is it a sin if someone is over 55 years that he is declared ineligible only due to age,” he deplored, requesting the government to delete the conditions.

An official at the helpline of the PLDC said the down payment would be received from the applicants if their name appeared in balloting.

When asked why it was written in the form that down payment should be done before balloting and it was confusing the people, keeping them away from the scheme, he said he had no knowledge about it.

This reporter tried to ask about some other conditions but he disconnected the call.

The City District Government of Lahore (CDGL) plans to raise boundary walls of all of its schools in the wake of the Peshawar school attack.

According to a senior official, the CDGL’s top slots in a recent meeting expressed concern over the Peshawar tragedy and pledged to formulate a strategy for minimising threats to all public schools it was supervising in the city.

“It has been decided to prepare a project proposal for raising boundary walls of the schools having low-height walls,” the official added. He said the proposal was being prepared on an urgent basis and soon it would be forwarded to the CDGL’s education wing and then the DCO and other authorities concerned for approval.

He said a survey had also been launched to identify schools having low boundary walls. – (khalidpak284@yahoo.com)

Published in Dawn, December 23rd, 2014

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