FAISALABAD: The owners of the Ashiana Housing scheme houses, constructed for the low-income groups by the Shahbaz government, have been awaiting possession of the houses for more than two years, says Nauman Younus, whose relative has been allotted a house in the scheme.

The scheme is located on Jaranwala Road near the Borstal Jail.

Construction was completed about two years ago, while in February last, the balloting of houses was done.

Mr Younas said his relative had been living in a rented house for the government had been delaying the project for more than two years.

He said it would take another two years for the owners to settle efficiently because the scheme had no school and hospital. If they are allotted houses now, he said, the new residents would have to travel about five to six kilometres to buy groceries.

In 2011, the Punjab government invited applications from the people earning less than Rs20,000 monthly to book a house in the scheme. The price of a three-marla double storey house is Rs1.19 million, while an applicant was to pay 25 per cent of the price as a down payment. The remaining amount was to be paid in installments.

The scheme had promised facilities for the residents such as electricity, roads, transport, sewerage system, water, parks and markets.

The scheme, however, has yet to establish the promised school, dispensary, community centre, commercial area and mosque.

In 2011, the advertisement had also promised a health club in the scheme, however, now the facility is not a part of the scheme.

Mr Younas said that after more than five years the government had arranged a draw in February last in Lahore for 30 houses. No one knew when would be the next draw, he said.

A visit to the colony premises unfolded more sorry tales.

The society has no boundary wall, which has allowed addicts and nearby residents to use the houses.

Ikram Ali, of a nearby town, chose the society to fly his pigeons.

He told Dawn the houses had become a safe haven for addicts even though the scheme had some security guards. Floor tiles and windowpanes of several house are broken or missing. The new paint of different houses is already starting to peel and crack.

A man, who seemed an addict, said he had been living in an empty house only to protect the colony from “criminals”.

“I will leave the premises when people start living here,” he added.

Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC) Secretary Shafiq told Dawn the process of handing over the houses would be completed by the end of October. He said the selected people had been informed through letters to contact the company and obtain keys of houses after paying the remaining amount.

He said 106 houses had been constructed in the scheme, and of them only nine had paid installments.

He said the contract of the boundary wall and mosque construction and installation of the main gate had been awarded, and the contractor would complete the task by the end of December.

He said the prices of construction material had increased manifold in the last three years but thee government had been helping the allotment holders by not charging them extra money.

He said the contractor had also been told to give a makeover to the houses so that dwellers could entre neat and clean houses.

Published in Dawn October 2nd, 2016

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