GUJRAT: The provincial government has tasked the Punjab Housing and Town Planning Agency (PHATA) with constructing the five million houses under Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme for low-income families, particularly in the industrial districts of the province.

The government has appointed Additional Secretary (Prosecution) Liaquat Ali Chattha as the director general of the agency. Punjab Chief Secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar had interviewed three officers for the post.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had pledged to build five million houses during his election campaign, and the Punjab government after a thorough discussion had chalked out a plan to get the scheme executed through appointment of the competent and efficient officials.

Mr Chattha has vast experience of successfully executing some vital construction projects during his stints as the deputy commissioner of Gujrat and Sargodha as well as serving as the executive district officer (finance and planning) in Faisalabad during the last five to eight years.

The government has already marked Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Sialkot for the initial execution of the housing project. Sites have also been pointed out by the land revenue departments of the respective districts however the execution of the scheme has become a serious question for the authorities concerned, said an official of the Punjab government.

He elaborated that the current economic conditions and shortage of development funds for ongoing uplift schemes or launching new ones was a cause for concern, and it had been decided to involve some private partners to complete the task.

The minimum cost of small two-bedroom houses would be Rs 1 to 1.2 million; the houses would be provided to applicants on ownership basis through regular instalments to the government. Moreover, philanthropists could be engaged to provide resources for the construction on public-private partnership and land would be allocated by the government.

Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2019

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