ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has not pursued cases of hundreds of commercial properties the leases of which have expired during the last two decades.
The civic agency had many years ago allotted a large number of commercial plots in various markets of Islamabad on 33-year leases, which were extendable for a further two terms.
Sources say that the leases of hundreds of these properties expired during the last two decades but the civic agency has not pursued these and many of those allotted the plots have not applied for an extension of their leases.
They said CDA can generate billions of rupees from lease extension fees.
“Technically, CDA owns these plots and after the expiry of the lease, it can take over the property for auctioning but it is not taking any such step,” a CDA official said.
CDA officials explained that those allotted these plots had made several unilateral changes including unauthorised sub-division, change of trade, change of building design etc, and that their lease may not be extended due to these changes which is why they are not applying for an extension.
They said that some class-III shopping centres in several sub-sectors are being operated in violation of the purpose of the allotment of their lease.
They said class-III shopping centres are meant to include shops for grocery, fruit and vegetables, milk, stationary, a barber’s shop and pharmacies etc. but in some sectors, they are being used for entirely different purposes.
Chakki Wali Market and Ali Market in G-7, right in front of CDA headquarters, are some class-III shopping centres being used for purposes other than that defined in their allotment agreements.
Al-Habib Market in G-7 was meant as an indoor shopping centre but after many changes, it is now an open market.
As per its layout plan, Gulshan Market had nine units but after sub-divisions, it now has 72 shops.
CDA officials said the G-7 Khadda Market was originally the sector’s markaz but is now being used as a market for auto-workshops whereas shops in Rana Market F-6 open towards houses and roads.
Last week, the Auditor General of Pakistan had also highlighted the issue of expired leases and in its latest report on CDA affairs, said that commercial plots in I&T centres in G-6 to G-10, Fruit and Vegetable Market I-11/4, Industrial Area I-9 and I-10/3 were allotted in or before 1988 for 33 years.
As per the terms and condition of the leases, after the expiry of the first term, CDA was to enforce a second term but no such efforts were made by the civic agency’s Estate Management-II Directorate.
The report said this resulted in the non-realisations of Rs364.375 million on account of lease extension charges.
It says that the civic agency also leased out 129 agro farms in various agro schemes the leases of which expired between 1999 and 2014. The report said that as per the restoration policy of 2014, those allotted the agro farms were required to apply for a restoration within a year of the date of expiry of their leases.
“Audit observed that neither the allottees of agro farms applied for extension nor CDA took any step towards lease extension of expired leases or cancelled the leases in-spite of elapsing a period of more than 20 years. Audit is of the view that as the allottee of agro farms (whose leases have been expired) have failed to extend their leases for 2nd term [in spite] of lapsing of so long period, therefore, CDA should have cancelled the expired leases. This resulted in non cancellation of leases valuing Rs 2,660.345 million,” the audit report says.
It recommends the cancellation of the leases of these agro plots, their re-allotment through open auction and taking appropriate action against responsible officials.
Sources in the civic agency said lease holders are benefitting from not renewing them as they are selling the properties via stamp paper and alleged that some officials are conniving with those allotted the commercial plots.
The allegations were denied by CDA spokesperson Syed Safdar Ali Shah, who said notices are being issued to the violators by the Estate Wing and that the leases will now be extended till the violations are removed.
He said the civic agency has not incurred losses due to the delay in extension as it also collects delay charges at the time of extension.
He said leased property cannot be bought or sold without CDA’s permission.
Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2019