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ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) is all set to allot over 1,000 acres of land to the army for the construction of a general headquarters (GHQ) and other military offices in Islamabad.

The army had shelved its plan of moving the GHQ from Rawalpindi to Islamabad in 2008-09 due to financial constraints and on the instructions of the then army chief, Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani.

It now wants possession of the land at the earliest so construction work can be started and the army headquarters can be moved to the federal capital.

Plan to move GHQ from Rawalpindi to Islamabad was shelved in 2008-09 due to financial constraints

A high level meeting was held on Dec 19 at the CDA headquarters in which several key decisions regarding the handing over of land to the army were taken. The meeting was chaired by Member Estate Khushal Khan and was attended by concerned CDA officers and army officers of Defence Complex Islamabad (DCI).

CDA officials told Dawn that issues regarding an office complex, which will be constructed on 138 acres, were discussed in detail.

The meeting was informed that a formal allotment letter has not been issued due to an outstanding annual ground rent of Rs84 million.

It was decided that the ground rent will be waived off as it was the CDA’s fault to not hand over possession of the land to the army for the construction of offices, a CDA official told Dawn.

He said a decision regarding 293 acres of land in D-11 was also taken and the CDA will now be issuing an allotment letter for this land in a week as possession of the land has already been handed over to the army.

The meeting was told that 870 acres of land in Zone III of the capital to the north of E-10 and D-11 was allotted to the DCI for the construction of an office complex for the GHQ, Joint Staff Head Quarters, Ministry of Defence (MoD) and DCI. The area of the office complex has now been reduced to 694.56 acres and an allotment letter for this land will be issued once the army pays off delayed charges amounting to about Rs225 million.

The resettlement of locals of the area was also discussed and the meeting was told that a summary in this regard has been submitted to the CDA board in which the allocation of a new sector has been proposed as H-16 will not be enough to accommodate them. All the decisions taken during the meeting will be implemented soon, the official said.

Talking to Dawn, CDA Member Estate Khushal Khan said almost all the issues between the CDA and the army were resolved during the meeting and that the civic agency will be issuing allotment letters of the land soon.

Asked about the annual ground rent, he explained that since the CDA did not hand over possession of the 138 acres of land for the office complex, there was no reason to charge the amount.

He said the army has been cooperating with the civic agency and have also paid back a large proportion of the amount for the land they will get from the CDA.

He said that according to the master plan, H-16 is reserved for institutions and will therefore be insufficient for accommodating those affected by the project in the area and that the CDA may acquire more land for developing more sectors.

“We are planning on acquiring land in H-17 and I-16 etc,” he said.

Demarcation of military land

According to CDA officials, the MoD has through an official letter, sought information from the CDA regarding the demarcation of military grass farm land in the Margalla Hills.

They said the military wanted a proper demarcation of the land so they could get complete control of it.

“I cannot recall the exact issue at the moment, but yes, the army does have land in the Margalla Hills,” Islamabad Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz said.

He added that he will be in a better position to comment on the demarcation process after reading the MoD letter.

The MoD letter asks for the information to be “provided without any further delay”.

Published in Dawn, December 27th, 2017