ISLAMABAD: The city managers are planning to preserve villages located on Margalla Hills and are considering to ban further development work there.

Sources said the Capital Development Authority’s planning wing was working on a proposal which would be shared with a committee formed by the CDA board last month for making changes to the regulations of Zone III.

The sources said during discussions taken place in the planning wing, it had been proposed that all the three unacquired villages — Gokina, Talhar and Shahdara — would be preserved.

The proposal said the villagers would be provided civic facilities and would be asked to refrain from carrying out further development work. They will also be told that whenever they wanted tosell their land,the civic agency will procure it for preservation. However, there will be no forced acquisition. The landowners can be asked if they wanted to sell their land to the CDA or not.

Similarly, the sources said, it had been proposed that private area which belonged to the locals such as Shah Allah Ditta will be included in Zone I and could be given the new name of Zone I-A.

Areas such as Kot Hatyal and Bhara Kahu will be added to Zone IV with the addition of a new sub-zone of 5.

“These are just proposals which will be shared with the committee formed by CDA board. The main decisions will be made by the committee and then a summary will be moved to the federal cabinet for final approval,” said a deputy director of the CDA, who was involved in the discussions.

Last month, the CDA board had decided to amend the zoning regulations of Zone III and formed the committee to finalise recommendations.

The committee is headed by Member Planning Waseem Hayat Bajwa with the member estate, directors master plan, building control and renowned architect Nayar Ali Dada as its members. The sources said so far the committee had not convened its first meeting.

Islamabad has five zones and according to the zoning regulations 1992, each zone has its own bylaws and regulations.

Zone III, which comprises around 50,000 acres, spreads over the national park area and private land. Out of the total, around 20,000 acres is private land.

Other than the national park, a portion of Banigala, Lakhwal, Saidpur, Malpur, Sangjani, Bhara Kahu, Kot Hathial, Shah Allah Ditta, Mangial, Phulgran, Mandla, Dhoke Jewan, Gandiar, Kalinjar, Sanarir and area bounded by Srinagar Highway in the north, Shahrah-i-Islamabad in the west and Murree Road in the south and east up to its junction with Srinagar Highway and Rawal Lake and area within a distance of two kilometres from the high watermark of Rawal Lake fall in the limits of Zone III.

However, the CDA in violation of the fundamental rights of people neither is acquiring their land, which falls in the zone, nor regulating construction activities there, resulting in the mushroom growth of unauthorised buildings.

People who hold land in the zone often face various restrictions as according to the CDA’s zoning regulations they cannot build new houses on their own land.

On the other hand, the civic agency never made any serious attempts to resolve issues of the local people. In 2010, a summary was presented to the cabinet which directed the CDA to undertake a study in Zone III. However, no proper work was done later.

CDA officials said Margalla Hills were considered as lungs of Islamabad; therefore, no bylaws should be framed which could compromise the green character of the zone. They said there was a need for bylaws and regulations for private land in the zone and that should be amid at providing relief to the locals, mainly small landholders.

However, they said there should be no permission for housing schemes and high-rise and other commercial ventures in the name of regulations on private land in Zone III.

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2022

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