I AM a proud reader of a very courageous daily which does not hesitate to report against very strong personalities of our society like Malik Riaz (Dawn, Jan 16). In the past, too, I have seen very detailed reports on land issues of Bahria Town Karachi (BTK). Here, I want to highlight an issue concerning BTK.
Of late, it has started sending vouchers of development charges at 35 per cent of the total cost already paid in installments (the last installment was due in early February 2018) at mailing addresses of persons having booked properties in BTK. According to the detailed statement, this new demand is to consist of 20 quarterly instalments to be paid between February 2020 and November 2024. According to the letter covering the voucher and the detailed statement, the newly-imposed development charges are to cater for the amenities roads, parks, etc.
To me, it appears that land cost imposed on BTK under the order of the Supreme Court is the reason behind these development charges. Though not directly claimed as such in the BTK letter, it is very apparent.
However, one may ask BTK why BTK, having received full payment from us about two years back in February 2018, has still not handed over possession of plots and villas and that whether we would be paid back part of the cost paid by us on account of a delay of more than two years by BTK in giving possession. The only reply I have received is that I should contact BTK administration, but honestly, I do not know how to contact them.
I do not see any coverage to the aforementioned story regarding the NAB reference in media nor do I see any mention of the so-called development charges anywhere on our otherwise very vibrant TV channels, but I hope that your newspaper will cover it well as the affectees are in the hundreds of thousands.
BAHRIA Town Karachi has recently sent demand notices to property owners for 35 per cent additional development charges. It had earlier received land and development charges with each installment and these 35pc additional charges are over and above the amount.
Bahria Town has, in fact, once again used arm-twisting tactics against the investors as was done in the past when Bahria Town Rawalpindi’s phase IX was launched without any lawful ownership of the land.
Subsequently, a number of investors lost huge investment. A few who could manage funds were accommodated in Bahria Town phase VIII by paying extra amount and files of phase IX were merged. Subsequently, Bahria Town Rawalpindi imposed additional development charges on plots of land allotted in phase VIII.
Apparently, it seems there is no transparency and no rules were followed in allotting the land. Those who participated in the initial launch of Bahria Town Karachi were allotted land where market prices remain much less even after over five years than the actual amount paid to Bahria Town.
It is regrettable that the hard-earned money of those who contributed towards development of prestigious precincts was used for the advantage of Bahria Town and its close associates who are believed to have been given lands/houses at prime locations.
The development charges are harsh and extremely unfair. Such action by Bahria Town has shattered confidence of small investors who dreamed of a shelter and now are forced to bear extra burden.
Bahria Town Karachi has started refund process after almost over five years. Post-dated cheques were issued to the applicants of which many returned unpaid. Bahria Town should be advised to immediately pay the amounts which need to be refunded and compensate those who have been issued allotment letter by paying at least 15pc of the actual amount per annum.
In order to restore investors’ confidence and to avoid fraudulent and illegal activities in real estate by various developers, the government should establish a regulatory body like Dubai’s Real Estate Regulatory Authority.
Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2020