ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court observed on Monday that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) demolished thousands of houses in a katchi abadi overnight but was powerless against the rich.

“The CDA is the worst run organisation in the world,” said Justice Qazi Faez Isa, the member of a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja.

The bench was hearing a case against the use of residential houses for commercial purposes and encroachments and road blockades erected by government offices, embassies and the citizens.

The observations came against the backdrop of a separate case filed against the construction of farmhouses on leased farmlands and the demolition of an informal settlement in Sector I-11 on July 30.

Justice Isa observed that the CDA should have ensured that its officers were vigilant against encroachments.

When CDA Chairman Maroof Afzal was summoned, he told the court that the authority had 15,000 employees, including 3,000 officers.

Judge says civic agency should ensure its officers remain vigilant against encroachments

Justice Isa suggested to the CDA chief to take back official cars from his officers and ask them to walk around the city so that they can perhaps notice scores of building violations, heaps of garbage and natural streams choked with filth. He said the CDA never capitalised on the violations by collecting fines from the violators of the law or the encroachers.

Justice Dost Mohammad Khan, another member of the bench, asked why the CDA had turned a blind eye to the blatant violation of its master plan. He regretted that even natural ravines and beds of rain-fed streams had been sold for the construction of bungalows.

The CDA chairman informed the court that the civic agency had developed a draft policy framework to ensure that residential property was not used for commercial purposes and the violators were penalised.

In the proposed policy, he added, the number of buildings in residential areas being used for commercial purposes had been reduced from 2,262 to 1,695. He said commercial use of residential areas was a chronic problem which had developed over the last 20 to 30 years. The framework stated that considerable time and effort was required to resolve the ‘complex issue’, especially keeping the available resources in mind.

According to the regulations laid out in the draft policy, six months would be given to the owners of shops, showrooms and restaurants to move out of residential areas. Government offices, hostels, guest houses and beauty parlours would be given one year to vacate the buildings while schools, academies, hospitals and clinics would have two years to relocate.

The CDA also informed the court that the authority was planning to allocate more land for educational institutions and a number of meetings had been held with the Private Schools Association for the formulation of a policy for the allotment of the plots.

The school owners can also buy land in Zone IV and V of Islamabad for the establishment of the educational institutions.

According to the rules laid out in the policy, cases of those establishments which are under trial in the court of the CDA deputy commissioner would continue. The cases which are yet to be forwarded to the deputy commissioner would also be sent for trial.

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2015

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