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ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has hinted that it may start legal proceedings against over 60 legitimate housing schemes that have been issued no-objection certificates but have not been getting building plans approved by the authority.

At the same time, over a hundred illegal societies in the city – where there are no regulatory checks by the authority to protect citizens’ investment and properties – remain untouched.

However, the CDA is taking notice of schemes that have been issued NOCs but have not been seeking the authority’s approval for building plans.

Instead, the operators of the schemes are themselves approving building plans and issuing occupancy certificates, in violation of the CDA’s regulations.

Director Building Control II Shafi Marwat wrote to all the schemes the other day asking them to get building plans approved by the CDA, or “criminal proceedings would be started [against societies]”.

The decision was taken to stop the unauthorised construction of houses, commercial apartments and commercial buildings in housing societies.

“This is a good initiative. The CDA Ordinance empowers the authority to approve building plans for all the buildings in the capital, but the operators of housing schemes themselves are approving building plans in violation of the rules and regulations. This is an open challenge to the CDA’s writ; it is like a state within a state,” a CDA official said, asking not to be named.

However, the official added that the CDA should have first gone after illegal housing societies that do not follow any rules or regulations.

The letter the CDA sent to the societies stated: “CDA is the approving authority of any building plan and issuance of occupancy permit in Islamabad Capital Territory as per CDA ordinance 1960 and as per building regulations 2005, which extent to entire ICT limits.”

It said it had been observed that despite repeated instructions and directions from the authority, “unauthorised construction” was in progress within the societies.

The CDA has asked the operators of these societies to explain which legal authority they are approving the building plans under.

“If you could not explain your legal backing within 7 days, after receipt of this notice that it will be presumed that you have nothing to say in your defense and criminal proceedings would be initiated against you,” it said.

Sources in the CDA said that the authority is in a fix over how to move against powerful developers who have been found to be breaking the rules and earning billions of rupees through unauthorised housing schemes.

An official said the CDA sealed the offices of Ghori Town, one of the largest illegal schemes comprising almost eight phases, last June, only to reopen it after receiving an undertaking from the scheme’s management that it would not carry out unauthorised construction.

However, the official claimed construction was continuing, while the authority appears helpless to take action, just like over a hundred others.

CDA Member Planning Asad Mehboob Kayani said action is being taken across the board, against legitimate that are breaking the rules and illegal societies.

He said the CDA had gotten FIRs registered against several operators of illegal housing schemes, and electricity connections have been banned for all illegal schemes.

“As far as Ghori Town is concerned, we have referred its case to the National Accountability Bureau,” he said, adding that the authority has been regularly using media notices to advise the public not to invest in unauthorised schemes.

“The names of illegal and legal housing schemes are also available on our website,” he said.

He added that, on directions from a Senate panel, the CDA has also decided to regularise schemes that meet CDA requirements, such as the provision of green areas, graveyards and amenity plots.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2018