ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet’s decision on Tuesday, banning compulsory land acquisition in Islamabad for housing purposes means the Capital Development Authority (CDA) will not be able to develop its eight planned sectors.

As per the CDA Act 1960, the civic agency is supposed to acquire land in Zone I for development of sectors.

The CDA has so far developed 24 sectors and acquired land for seven more sectors in 2008-9. However, it failed to announce their built-up property awards to get possession of the land for starting the development work. These sectors included D-13, E-13, F-13, C-13, C-16, I-17 and H-16. However, the cabinet directed the CDA to announce the pending BuP awards soon.

Govt decision hailed as CDA, FGEHA used to acquire public land at throwaway rates and sold plots for millions

Meanwhile, the cabinet decision, which can be implemented after amending the CDA ordinance through parliament, says the civic agency cannot carry out compulsory land acquisition for housing purposes. This means the civic agency can’t acquire land for development of the planned sectors of D-14, D-15, E-14, E-15, H-13, H-14, H-15 and H-17.

These un-acquired sectors fall in Zone I. The cabinet approved CDA’s plan for development of E-12 which is stalled since 1989. The land affected people of this sector will be allotted plots in I-12.

The cabinet also decided that the pending compensation of the affectees of Islamabad will be paid in accordance with the prevailing market rate. This means the affected landowners of H-16 and I-17 will get handsome amounts against their pending payments.

Sources said those not paid compensation by the CDA will be given a chance to submit their applications to a committee likely to be headed by a retired judge to decide their cases within 90 days.

Some government officials Dawn spoke to, appreciated the government’s decision barring the CDA and the Federal Government Employees Housing Authority (FGEHA) from compulsory land acquisition. They said these two authorities used to get land from the local people by force against a very low amount and after developing the schemes sold plots against millions of rupees. They said in 2008 the CDA had purchased I-17 and H-16 land at the rate of only around 0.8 million per kanal.

“These two authorities were doing commercial activity (by selling plots) at the cost of the locals after acquiring their land at throwaway prices. So let me appreciate the decision of the federal cabinet,” said an officer. However, he expressed the fear that there would be a mushroom growth of unauthorised development in the eight sectors.

“Now, it is the responsibility of the federal government to direct the CDA and the other organisation to enforce their bylaws in the eight sectors otherwise these areas will also become a new Bhara Kahu in Zone I,” the officer said.

He said the case of un-acquired E-11 was a live example as the CDA never made any attempt to impose its bylaws there that resulted in the mushroom growth of unauthorised construction, including more than 70 high-rise buildings.

In August this year, following an urban flooding in E-11, the federal cabinet had directed the CDA to enforce its bylaws in that sector and also carry out a hydrological study of nullahs crossing the area.

Published in Dawn, November 3rd, 2021

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