ISLAMABAD: City managers on Wednesday discussed the proposed acquisition of land in old villages of Zone-III of the federal capital.

The meeting, chaired by Capital Development Authority (CDA) Chairman Amer Ali Ahmed, discussed the proposed land acquisition in old villages of Zone-III, however, after holding the initial discussion, the chair decided to meet again to discuss the issue further.

Islamabad is made up of five zones and Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP) area falls in Zone-III.

The CDA officials said this zone consisted of 50,398 acres out of which 19,992 acres were acquired land, 12,008 acres, forest land and state land and 18,398 acres is un-acquired and private land.

Shah Allah Ditta, Lakhwal, Banigala, Saidpur, Bhara Kahu (partially) Kot Hathial, Sangjani, some old villages and land within 2km radius of Rawal Dam is part of Zone-III.

“We are exploring options to acquire land of old villages that are located in Margalla Hills and in the national park area. Final decision will be taken in the next few days, but one thing is clear, we will not go for compulsory land acquisition, rather we will go for soft acquisition as people will be asked to sell their land to CDA on market rate whenever they want but they will not be allowed to sell it out to any private buyers,” said an officer who attended the meeting.

He said initially, the CDA was targeting old villages, like Gokina and Talhar, for acquisition.

The CDA has been announcing that it would acquire private land of this zone, but so far, no practical step was taken.

On the other hand, officials said if the CDA would go for acquisition of private land in Zone-III beyond the old villages, it will be a flop project as the civic body would have to pay billions of rupees against land and give thousands of plots against built-up property.

“Technically speaking, acquiring the entire private land in Zone-III is a cumbersome and complicated issue and we do not want to indulge ourselves in this controversy as we failed to acquire land of the planned H-13 sector,” the officer said, adding that instead of acquiring over 19,000 acres of private land in Zone-III, our target is old villages only.”

As far as the fate of the remaining area in Zone-III is concerned, the master plan commission should look into the issue, the officer said.

It is relevant to note here that under existing regulations of the CDA, owners of private land could not construct houses on their own land as the area falls in Zone-III.

Like, the private land in Zone-III, a sub-zone D of Zone-IV also falls in a similar category, where the CDA is neither acquiring land nor allowing people to construct houses.

According to CDA regulations, this sub zone, which comprises 23,618 acres of land is reserved for agro farming, nature conservation projects, sports and recreation, playgrounds, entertainment zones, apartments, office buildings and hotels.

However, in its latest meeting, the master plan commission realised the need for making changes in regulations of this sub zone.

“Various proposals are under consideration. The rationale behind the proposal of changing bylaws of this zone is to increase green cover and promote vertical construction,” said a member of the master plan commission, adding that options are also being explored to protect the landscape.

Published in Dawn, December 16th, 2021

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