ISLAMABAD: With major urban centres in the country experiencing a housing crisis, several residential projects and housing societies remain in limbo due to an order passed by the Punjab government that has effectively tied the hands of officials responsible for giving such projects the go-ahead.

Issued by the Service & General Administration Department (S&GAD) Punjab, the order effectively bars all development authorities from regularising housing schemes, even within their defined jurisdictions, in order to protect so-called ‘green areas’.

“The officer/officials who fail to protect agriculture area/green area in their jurisdiction shall be deemed to have abetted the offence and proceedings shall be initiated against them as provided in law/rules,” reads the order, issued earlier this month.

However, the order does not define what constitutes a “green area”, and officials who are not prepared to risk their jobs have all but stopped the process of granting approval to new housing projects.

Punjab government’s spokesperson Atta Tarar told Dawn that he will immediately take up the matter at the highest forum and will try to resolve the issue soon to secure investment of the public as well as housing schemes developers.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Tarar admitted that the issue had created a lot of problems for those looking to build their own homes since the authorities concerned were uncertain how to deal with the housing societies that fell in their jurisdictions.

Sources in various development authorities said that due to this, hundreds of genuine housing schemes remain stuck, despite having met all their due diligence requirements.

An official told Dawn that while the government must protect green areas and agricultural lands, legitimate housing schemes could not be held up on this pretext.

Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2022

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