PESHAWAR: The staggering prices of housing units in Pakistan Housing Authority (PHA) Residencia scheme has disappointed local people and government employees, who were expecting low cost homes for themselves in line with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision.
The prime minister had earlier announced five million low cost houses across the country to overcome the housing shortage in the country.
However, announcement of PHA Residencia Peshawar payment plan, which includes hefty down payment and installments, has caused resentment and rage among those, who had applied for homes under the scheme as majority of them right now find themselves in such a position wherein they can neither deposit the down payment nor the installments.
The unveiling of hefty prices of the houses in four categories ranges from Rs4 million to Rs13million, which has shocked the members. The scheme is located in Surizai, situated on the southern fringes of the provincial capital. It is a barren area having no population. Currently prices of land in the area are cheap.
Complain of being deceived in the name low-cost government scheme
Majority of those, who have declared successful in balloting, are now faced with the daunting task of depositing the sums ranging from Rs0.5 million to Rs1 million as down payment. On the other hand, the people, who failed to get the housing units through balloting, are angry that they not only failed to secure the homes but also lost Rs10,000, they deposited as registration fee.
Maaz Khan, who lives in a rented house in Hashtnagri area of the city, told this scribe that Rs10,000 in those hard times went down the drain. He said that he was hoping to become a house owner through the scheme but it proved to be an illusion.
He said that government literally played with the emotions of thousands of low income people, who did not have their own homes. He had applied for 11-marla house.
Maaz said that it was unimaginable for him to be able to pay over Rs1 million as down payment and around Rs0.7 million quarterly installment with a salary of Rs50,000 per month. “It sounds like a cruel joke with thousands of poor people,” he said.
Anwar Hussain, another local, said intention of the government was evident from the fact that the payment plan was not mentioned in the initial advertisement and people under the impression they would get low cost homes as was promised by the prime minister.
Mr Hussain has been living in rented home for the last two decades.
“People were deceived by the government for not mentioning the payment schedule in the advertisement,” alleged Abdul Majeed. He added that even small private builders issued price and payment schedule in the advertisement of their schemes.
“Had the government mentioned detail of the price and payment installments, I would not have applied for this housing scheme,” said Mr Majeed. He said that he could not manage Rs1 million down payment and around Rs0.7 million quarterly installments in his Rs60, 000 monthly salary.
The release of the down payment and quarterly installments schedule by PHA has also triggered a debate on social media.
One member of the PHA suggested on the social media formation of a committee having four to five members one from each scale range to meet PHA director, secretary or the minister concerned and request them to reduce the total price, down payment and quarterly installments in the larger public interest.
Another member demanded that the quarterly or monthly installments should be less than 50 per cent of their combined or individual salary.
Several members, who talked to Dawn, were also contemplating to challenge the high prices of the government housing scheme in the court.
The PHA has asked the members through its offer letter to deposit 10 per cent down payment against the housing unit along with documentation charges till October 15 failing which the offer of allotment will stand cancelled and the housing unit will be offered to other members as per waiting list.
Provincial Housing Minister Amjid Ali, when contacted, said that the prices of the housing units were not so high. He said that government would construct the housing units on “no profit no loss base”. He said that the members would get not only the land but also a complete house.
The minister had no reply when this reporter asked how the homeless people would pay huge down payments and quarterly installments.
Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2020