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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation’s (FGEHF) Thallian and Bhara Kahu housing projects, as well as the F-14 and F-15 sectors, are facing serious issues, Housing and Works Secretary Babar Hassan Bharwana admitted before a parliamentary committee on Wednesday.

Mr Bharwana said the Thallian housing project is involved in a dispute over acquiring and purchasing land. As for the Bhara Kahu housing scheme, he said, the FGEHF was going to expand the project towards Murree but the area falls within a national park, where housing societies are not allowed to operate.

The secretary was speaking before a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Housing and Works, which expressed concern over the prolonged delays in the Thallian and Bhara Kahu projects.

The committee said that the foundation began the Thallian project without doing its homework. MNA Ghulam Sarwar Khan said: “The foundation does not have land for the Thallian housing scheme, while there are also issues of accessibility and water.”

NA body expresses concern over delays in Thallian, Bhara Kahu housing schemes

The FGEHF cannot acquire land for the expansion of its Bhara Kahu project because of a ban imposed by the Ministry of Interior in 2016 in response to public complaints that the foundation was forcefully acquiring land from locals.

Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration director Rabia Aurangzeb told the committee that the FGEHF cannot acquire land from locals because of the interior ministry’s decision. She said the foundation now wishes to expand towards Murree.

“A case of development work and housing schemes in Murree is currently being heard in the Supreme Court. We will take further decisions in light of the SC’s upcoming decision on whether we can expand our scheme in the limits of Murree,” she said.

Ms Aurangzeb added that the scheme, which was launched in 2009, was also delayed by a suo motu SC case and an investigation by the National Accountability Bureau.

While discussing the FGEHF’s F-14 and F-15 sectors, housing secretary Mr Bharwana said the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had scrapped the projects but the foundation has appealed the decision.

On Oct 23, 2017 IHC Justice Athar Minallah scrapped the FGEHF’s project to develop the two sectors, where members of the judiciary, bureaucrats, influential lawyers and journalists were among the beneficiaries.

Deciding petitions filed against the acquisition of land for these sectors, Justice Minallah asked the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to take over the underdeveloped housing schemes and judiciously dispense plots after developing both sectors.

Committee member Khalida Mansoor raised questions over the foundation’s performance, remarking that that all their projects were facing problems.

After sensing that there would be no headway in the Thallian and Bhara Kahu projects in the near future, the committee decided to discuss both matters at the next meeting on Feb 9.

Committee members also discussed problems facing National Assembly employees regarding the allotment of government accommodation, and took notice of the non-allotment of accommodation to constitutional bodies, particularly employees of the Senate and National Assembly.

Committee chairman Mian Abdul Mannan said earlier in the meeting that there were reports of Rs3 billion worth of corruption in the interior ministry’s housing scheme. The committee referred the matter to the standing committee on interior.

200 apartments ‘occupied’ in G-6

An official from the housing ministry also told the standing committee on Wednesday that their apartments were being illegally occupied by employees, particularly police officials.

A ministry representative said the CDA is reluctant to hand over the apartments to the housing ministry, to which the committee chairman remarked that the CDA had to give the housing ministry’s flats to the housing ministry.

Upon questioning ministry officials further, however, the committee learnt that the flats were built by the CDA on its own land using its own financial resources. However, ministry officials said the CDA built the apartments for the ministry of housing on the directive of the prime minister.

The committee chairman responded that if the apartments were developed by the CDA on its own land using its own funding, the ministry’s claims had no weight.

The 200 apartments were built by the CDA in the early 2000s, and were to be handed over to the Ministry of Housing on the directives of the prime minister. However, before they could be formally handed over to the ministry, the apartments were occupied by government employees – mainly police officials.

According to a document the CDA submitted before a subcommittee, 130 apartments are occupied by officials from the police, 31 by CDA officials and 39 by other government employees and some private families.

Because of the disputed status of the apartments, neither the CDA nor the ministry have taken action against those occupying the apartments.

Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2018