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ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) board on Thursday approved in principle new planning parameters for farmhouses that would not allow people allotted agro, orchard and poultry farmers to use the farms beyond their set limits.

Farmhouse owners will have to produce vegetables, chickens, eggs and fruit for the city according to their capacity, the CDA decided.

If they do not, action will be taken against them.

The CDA board met at the authority’s headquarters with Chairman Ishrat Ali in the chair and in principle approved a planning wing summary regarding planning parameters, terms and conditions of allotment and lease agreements and monitoring systems for farmhouses.

Agro-farm owners will face action if they do not produce greens, poultry for the city

In the ’80s, the CDA had allowed 2.5 acre farmhouses 2,250sq ft of covered area.

This was increased to 4,850sq ft in 2003 and 10,000sq ft in 2004.

In 2013, SC ordered the chairman to restore all 504 farmhouses to agricultural land status.

Then, a few months ago, SC allowed farmhouses 9,500sq ft of covered area.

Sources said that during Thursday’s meeting, the CDA chairman expressed displeasure with the nonconforming use of farmhouses and directed the planning wing to ensure all lessees and allottees produce vegetables, fruit and poultry according to their lease agreements.

Sources said board members were of the view that the CDA had in the past also allotted plots to people on subsidised rates and strict action should be taken against those who were using the facility for other purposes.

Temporary member planning Ehsanul Haq in a summary informed the board that the CDA launched eight agro-farming schemes in Zone IV to develop and establish projects of agro-oriented production to meet the city’s needs.

These schemes were categorised as vegetable farms, orchards and poultry farms.

But, the summary said: “Unfortunately agro farm projects in these schemes have turned into ultra luxurious palatial residences instead of their intended use. Even, many started commercial operations/event hosting sites.”

SC had taken cognisance of the matter and directed CDA to finalise building by-laws with a maximum allowed covered area not exceeding 9,500sq ft; initially, the covered area was 4,850sq ft, the summary read.

Furthermore, the use of agro-farms should adhere strictly to the terms and conditions allowed by the authority, and the nonconforming use of any agro-farming plot should be penalised in accordance with the regulations.

The summary said that plots in these schemes could be divided into three categories on the basis of allotment: allotment to the general public (the CDA has allotted 269 such plots), allotment to affected people (172 plots) and allotment through auction (63).

The non-production and building zone will not be more than 10pc, it said, bringing the total covered area to 9,500sq ft.

A basement will be allowed for additional circulation and a parking zone will be allowed on not more than 10pc of the plot, it suggested.

No subdivision or amalgamation of the plot will be allowed, and instead of boundary walls agro-farms will only be allowed a see-through fence around the plot.

The summary disclosed that the active farming area should not be less than 80pc.

For orchard schemes, 150 trees should be planted per acre and production should commence within five years of taking possession.

For poultry and vegetable farms, farmers are bound to use 80pc of the land for intensive cultivation of vegetables and they are to produce chickens, eggs and vegetables within a year.

CDA also decided that the sale and purchase of agro-farms allotted by the authority will not be permitted, as these are non-transferable.

Plots will be liable for cancellation after the provision of a show cause notice on grounds of non-development, non-production, defaulting on payments, building violations and nonconforming use.

The summary also called for the launch of a regular monitoring system using a mobile phone application to record the inspection regarding the use of the plot and production achieved from the nearly 500 agro-farms and projects.

According to records from 2013, when SC took up the case suo motu, several influential individuals emerged as the owners of palatial farmhouses.

They included former military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf, former prime minister Shaukat Aziz, former Senate chairman Mohammad Mian Soomro, PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, former senators Wasim Sajjad and Shahzad Waseem and others.

A senior CDA official said the summary has been approved by the board in principle, but will be discussed again after small changes and additions.

Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2018