PAC asks CDA to apply Banigala model to regularise illegal societies

Published January 21, 2021
Civic agency chief says firm being hired to develop master plan, submit proposal to legalise residential schemes. — AFP/File
Civic agency chief says firm being hired to develop master plan, submit proposal to legalise residential schemes. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has advised the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to apply the Banigala regularisation model to legalise illegal housing societies in Islamabad.

The PAC meeting, which was convened with Rana Tanveer Hussain in the chair, was informed by the audit authorities that unauthorised construction of Ghauri Town on 6,000 kanals had inflicted Rs30 billion loss to the national exchequer.

CDA Chairman Amer Ali Ahmed, on the other hand, said action had been taken against the private society, but since it was not a high-end scheme and people from the lower middle class resided there, the civic agency had been considerate towards it.

He informed the committee that a consultancy firm was being hired to develop capital’s master plan and to submit a comprehensive proposal to regularise illegal societies.

Civic agency chief says firm being hired to develop master plan, submit proposal to legalise residential schemes

Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed suggested that the CDA apply Banigala model here as well.

The Supreme Court had ordered regularisation of Banigala’s unauthorised construction subject to certain guidelines after which the CDA conditionally approved the residence of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Mr Syed, on a lighter note, said the regularisation of the illegal housing societies under the Banigala model would be done overnight. The CDA chairman, meanwhile, said the plan for illegal societies would be implemented within three to six months.

Park View City

The PAC also ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to conduct inquiry into the ‘unjustified restoration of the layout plan’ of a private housing society owned by Punjab senior minister Aleem Khan.

As per the audit report, Park View City had caused a loss of Rs2.1 billion to the national exchequer.

The audit noted that CDA’s Directorate Regional Planning issued a no objection certificate to Park View City on Feb, 14, 2013 which was cancelled on Nov 7, 2014 due to non-transfer of land meant for amenities in the name of the civic agency.

The cancelled NOC was restored by the CDA’s planning wing in 2018 without ensuring fulfillment of the requirements.

Cabinet Secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar told the committee that pursuant to an order of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), the NOC had been cancelled.

The committee chairman, however, pointed out that this was a gross violation and prima facie a fit case to be inquired by NAB. Subsequently, with the consent of the PAC members, he referred the case to the accountability bureau for investigation.

However, PTI lawmaker Munaza Hassan wanted discussion on the road that linked the housing society with Kuri Road, PAC Chairman Tanveer Hussain replied that since he had already referred the issue to NAB, it was up to the bureau to take up the matter.

Safa Gold Mall

While PAC members were of the view that Safa Gold Mall, a multi-storey shopping centre in Islamabad’s F-7 area, be converted to a hospital, Rana Tanveer Hussain contended that this could be regularised in line with the ‘One Constitution’ building.

CDA Chairman Amer Ali Ahmed said the plot originally belonged to the civic agency’s Directorate of Health. However, he said it was relocated to F-11 and then the plot was auctioned to the mall owners in accordance with law.

The owner then constructed three additional storeys on the plot, he said, adding that four CDA officials were arrested and were now facing NAB reference for their alleged connivance in the construction of the three additional storeys of Safa Gold Mall.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2021

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