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ISLAMABAD: Land owned by Waqas Ahmed’s family was acquired by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) about 25 years ago and he has exhausted all efforts to get possession of the promised alternative plot from the civic agency. However, for about a year now, the authority’s land directorate has been stopped from allotting alternative plots.

The step has apparently been taken after massive corruption was reported in the directorate last year. Instead of taking steps to eliminate corruption in the directorate and making the system transparent, the CDA stopped allotting alternate plots altogether, creating great difficulties for people with genuine cases.

Mr Ahmed is one of hundreds who are affected by the said action. Their family lands were acquired by the civic agency for developing residential sectors and other purposes and they were entitled to alternate plots.

Instead of addressing corruption allegations in the land directorate, CDA stops allotting alternative plots altogether

“CDA’s Land Directorate is one of the most corrupt directorates and several officials, mostly former officials, of this wing have faced legal proceedings for corrupt practices,” a CDA official said. Last year, the then acting CDA chairman Sheikh Anser Aziz had removed the head of the directorate after receiving reports of wrongdoing and had stopped the allotment of plots for the time being. His action was followed by successive chairmen, neither of whom tried to bring about concrete changes to eliminate corruption.

A CDA official said in the past officers on deputation headed this wing and during their tenure more corruption cases were reported. “CDA’s own officer of good repute should be appointed on this post,” he said.

Through various tactics, officials of the Land Directorate would keep delaying genuine cases so that those entitled to alternate plots would sell their claims to property dealers for a nominal price.

These dealers would then get the files approved within a few days by certain officials and would earn millions from each case, and they would split the profits with the officials, alleged the official.

The official said the CDA should compile all the claims and list them on its official website. An announcement should be made that all the cases will be decided within a certain period, once and for all.

Due to pending claims, particularly due to Built-Up Property (BUP) claims, several of CDA’s sectors are stalled. Officials said other than corruption, a faulty land award system was also one of the major reasons for the delay in the finalisation of claims for alternate plots.

They said in many land awards, the civic agency did not announce the BUP awards and a pending BUP award provided locals a chance to claim more than their due share of plots. He said land and BUP award should have been announced together in order to avoid disputes.

Due to the poor performance of the land and enforcement directorates, several of the civic agency’s residential sectors have been stalled for many years and the authority has not launched a housing scheme for decades, causing an increasing gap in affordable housing in the capital city for the middle class.

According to CDA documents, the stalled sectors include E-12, where the civic agency sold plots in the late 80s but is yet to give possession of developed plots to the buyers. It is said that hundreds of the original buyers have since passed away.

Some of the other stalled sectors are C-13, C-14, C-15, C-16, D-13, E-13, F-13, H-16, I-17, I-11, I-12, 1-14, I-15, Kuri Model Village, Park Enclave-II and Chatta Bakhtawar. Incomplete land or BUP awards are the reason for delays in most of these sectors.

MCI opposition leader Ali Awan, who belongs to the PTI and is also the party’s ticket holder in the NA-53 by-election, said the CDA had grossly mishandled the issue of allotting alternate plots. He said this was injustice with the people whose lands were acquired decades ago who are still trying to get compensation.

When asked, CDA Member Estate Khushal Khan said frequent changes in CDA chairman last year was one of the major reasons for the delay in allotting alternate plots.

He said the issue would be resolved soon with the adoption of a transparent policy. “We will move forward following the guidelines of the new chairman and the federal government,” he said.

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2018