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ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) on Monday decided to change Islamabad’s zoning regulations ahead of the general election.

Sources in the ministry told Dawn that CADD Minister Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry – a local PML-N MNA – observed during a meeting with the Capital Development Authority (CDA) that the CDA’s 1992 zoning regulations created problems for rural citizens.

In 2010, CDA had made changes to zoning regulations of Zone IV, permitting the setting up of housing societies.

The meeting was attended by CDA Chairman Usman Akhtar Bajwa and other authority officials Sources said a committee was formed during the meeting to propose changes to the zoning regulations within two months.

Changes could also benefit several politicians, bureaucrats, CDA officials say

They said CADD is concerned about zones III and IV of the capital.

Unauthorised construction, in violation of zoning regulations, has been carried out in the two zones at a large scale already.

CADD spokesperson Attiqur Rehman confirmed that “a committee under the chairmanship of CADD minister and comprising the CDA chairman and other concerned officers has been formed to propose changes in zoning regulations of CDA”.

He said the changes would aim to resolve issues facing locals, who have faced problems constructing on their own land. Mr Rehman said the committee was formed because of a case regarding illegal construction in Banigala which is being heard in the Supreme Court.

CADD will share details about the committee with the SC today (Tuesday), he added.

Parts of Banigala fall in Zone III, while other parts fall in Zone IV.

Sources said several politicians and bureaucrats own large amounts of land in Zone III, where housing scheme and construction is presently prohibited.

These individuals have been lobbying for changes to regulations pertaining to Zone III for a long time.

“If major changes are made to the zoning regulations, the character of the capital’s master plan will face a serious setback.

“Instead of going for new zoning regulations, the government should take steps to regulate the existing unauthorised construction and a strict ban should be imposed for the future on areas where construction and housing schemes are banned under the existing regulations,” a CDA town planner, who asked not to be named, said.

Zone III comprises land situated between the northern side of Murree Road, as well as areas such as Shah Allah Ditta, Chontra, Lakhwal, Banigala, Saidpur, Malpur, Bhara Kahu, Kot Hathial and Sangjani.

Zone IV includes Kuri, Gumra Kas, Farash, Shahzad Town, Lehtrar Road, Tarlai, Sohan, Khanna, Kirpa and Phulgran.

However, the CADD spokesperson claimed that residents of Zone IV in particular, and rural residents in general, have faced difficulties constructing on their own land due to a gap between the government (in the form of the CDA, Islamabad Capital Territory and union councils) and local landowners.

He said the proposed changes would focus on Zone IV.

“As far as changes in Zone III’s regulations are concerned, I don’t think this was discussed in the meeting, but I am not sure. I think the main issue is related to Zone IV,” he said.

The CDA’s move to link new construction with no-objection certificates (NOC), also known as building plan

approvals, and its directions to the Islamabad Electric Supply Company and Sui Northern Gas Pipelines not the issue new connections without an NOC from the CDA – which aim to prevent unauthorised construction in the capital – have caused problems for rural residents of the Islamabad.

Residents have argued that the CDA, which provides them no municipal services, cannot keep them from constructing on their own land.

PML-N representatives in the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad have also criticised the CDA for linking new construction to NOCs, while the CDA has claimed that it had no other choice but to link new utility connections to NOCs in order to stop haphazard construction.

Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2018