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RAWALPINDI, Jan 1:  Since response to the policy of regularisation of lease property in cantonment areas was poor, the Military Lands and Cantonments (ML&C) department has recommended to the defence ministry to extend the deadline, which expired on December 31, for another year.

According to official data of Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB), there are 4,742 residential units and 1,138 commercial units in the cantonment, granted on lease but owners of only 100 residential and 20 commercial units have applied for the regularisation.

The regularisation will authorise the owners of lease property to not only raise buildings but also sell them.

ML&C had prepared the old lease policy in 2007 to give an opportunity to the people to establish their legal ownership of property within cantonments on rational terms and conditions and asked them to regularise the properties by December 31, 2012.

The poor response of the people led the Military Lands and Cantonments to recommend the extension.

“The recommendations had been sent to the prime minister for final approval as the federal government is already considering giving extension,” said a senior official of Military Lands and Cantonments while talking to Dawn.

He said the civic bodies which were under the administrative control of ML&C would not launch crackdown on the non-complying lease property owners.

He said as the general elections were round the corner the federal government would not want the people to come on the streets. He was confident that the extension would be granted in all cantonments of the country.

In 1857, the British army invited civilians to construct shops and residences in the cantonment areas in order to bridge the gap between its soldiers and local Indians and gave land for this purpose.

They had been allowed to construct buildings on the land but it was owned by the government.

After the partition, the government made some changes in 1924 Cantonment Act in 1953 and asked the residents to return the properties, sending a wave of unrest among them.

However, the government and the residents reached settlement and the latter were allowed to live there. But they were warned against selling and buying the properties.

However, in 2007, the government decided to allow the holders of the properties to get their lease regularised, which would not only authorise them to raise buildings but also sell them. In return, the move would earn millions of rupees in the taxes to the cantonment board.

For the regularisation of properties, the government set December 31, 2012.

The basic reason behind the poor response of the people was lack of awareness among the people about the policy and high fees for the regularisation.

“For residential property the regularisation fee will be 20 per cent of its value whereas for commercial it will 40 per cent of the value of the property,” said Aftab Ahmed, a resident of Babu Mohallah, Saddar, while talking to Dawn.

Mohammad Hasan, a resident of R.A. Bazaar, said he was not comfortable with the working of the clerical staff of the cantonment board therefore he avoided to go there. He said that the government should give some time and made the procedure understandable.

RCB Cantonment Executive officer Rana Manzoor Ahmed Khan was unaware of the summery moved by the Military Lands and Cantonments for extension of the deadline for another year.

He said the RCB had received over 100 cases for the regularisation. He said that the RCB office had established facilitation counter for the people.