Bahria Town submits proposals for low-cost housing, SC told

Published May 22, 2021
A file picture of Bahria Enclave in Islamabad. — Photo courtesy Bahria Town website
A file picture of Bahria Enclave in Islamabad. — Photo courtesy Bahria Town website

ISLAMABAD: In a fresh report moved on behalf of the law ministry, the Supreme Court has been informed of a possible memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Bahria Town (Pvt) Ltd (BTPL) which under a deal with the apex court is to pay Rs460 billion as part of an arrangement to settle the Malir land dispute.

The report said Bahria Town had submitted two proposals to the Naya Pakistan Housing Development Authority (NAPHDA) for construction of low-cost housing schemes in Islamabad and Karachi consisting of 3,000 and 2,000 apartments, respectively.

“The proposals are being evaluated and the NAPHDA is likely to sign an MoU with BTPL in respect of these proposals,” said the report furnished by Additional Attorney General Sohail Mahmood before the SC implementation bench.

The bench had on March 21, 2019, accepted Bahria Town’s offer to pay Rs460bn for the purchase of land measuring 16,896 acres in Malir, Karachi, but on certain terms and conditions.

Developer may sign MoU with NAPHDA for constructing 5,000 apartments in Islamabad and Karachi

The offer was accepted to implement the apex court’s May 4, 2018, judgement which had held the grant of land to the MDA by the Sindh government, its exchange with the land of private developer Bahria Town and anything done under the provisions of the Colonisation of Government Land Act, 1912 by the provincial government illegal and of no legal existence.

The land was granted for launching an incremental housing scheme, but the MDA exchanged it with Bahria Town to launch a scheme of its own, the SC verdict had regretted.

The report said the law ministry had sought input from the NAPHDA on April 21 whether BTPL was a significant player in the construction industry and whether the developer was contributing to the authority’s development work.

In response, the NAPHDA had through a letter on April 23 said BTPL was a significant player in the construction industry and that both might sign an MoU.

However, the law ministry in its report said the federal government should plead before the Supreme Court that any flexibility in the payment of instalments may not affect or extend the final deadline already prescribed by the court in its earlier order to make the final payment. Likewise, the deferment of deadline for the payment of instalments, except the deadline for the final payment, should carry payment of mark-up as determined by the court.

Moreover, the report said, BTPL must be directed to fulfil all legal conditions and requirements without taking any undue advantage. And if BTPL is found lacking in its commitment with the government or the court, the federal government may have the right to file an application to recall any extension in the deadline for payment of instalments, if granted by the Supreme Court.

The report highlighted that indeed it was the apex court which had to decide the matter in its own wisdom and that the Prime Minister Office had through a letter on April 9 reiterated the government’s commitment to comply with the rule of law.

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2021

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