Illegal construction continues in Islamabad’s Margalla Hills. While the courts are ordering demolition of existing structures, several areas in prohibited zones are being populated under the nose of CDA and Islamabad administration.
The construction continues in full boom as Supreme Court recently ordered demolition of Nasla Towers in Karachi. Moreover, the Islamabad High Court is ordering removal of encroachments in Margalla Hills National Park. The Capital Development Authority seems to avoid confronting the who’s who of Islamabad while they flaunt the law of the land. Islamabad’s Master Plan clearly states that there shall be no construction in Zone 3 of Islamabad. The international Greek consultant Doxiadis Associates had made the plan on a grid system right adjacent to the Margalla Hills.
The original architects were viewing the new city with an emphasis on environmental protection. They also had an eye on other key issues such as protecting wildlife, design a new urban center and plan a sustainable infrastructure for the new capital of Pakistan. This ban on construction in certain areas of the city is outlined on the basis of Islamabad’s Master Plan.
However, the ban on construction has never been implemented on the rich, wealthy and powerful people of Islamabad. Although, there is a lot of criticism on provincial governments with regards to non-implementation of building controls or illegal construction activities. The federal capital of Pakistan is also having several areas with illegal construction.
Decisions of the Islamabad High Court
The Islamabad High Court has recently demanded that Pakistan Navy shall cease to own the Golf Course in Margalla Hills. Moreover, it has also sealed the Monal restaurant at the top of hills as it is also considered encroachment. Most importantly, the honorable Islamabad High Court has ordered the authorities to raze the theme park of Pakistan Navy at Rawal Lake. It shows how much of Islamabad is under encroachment.
Supreme Court’s order to demolish Nasla Tower
Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ordered strict penalties against those who are involved in illegal construction. It has also ordered to demolish a building, Nasla Tower, in Karachi. Although, the residents have been living there for years and utility companies have provided connections to them. Yet, the demolition has been ordered by the honorable court. Meanwhile, illegal construction continues in full boom under the nose of Supreme Court of Pakistan.
CDA’s Support to Land Grabbers
CDA is a powerful organization with substantial human resource and huge sums of money in its kitty from the government. It has an annual budget of 156 billion alone for non-development and development expenditure in fiscal year 2022. Moreover, it also has several of its own resources to run its affairs. One of the key financial strengths of CDA includes its highly priced residential and commercial plots across the breadth of Islamabad city.
It has several wings with offices spread across the city. Apart from heavily staffed Chairman’s secretariat, it has administrative wing, estate wing, engineering wing, finance wing, planning & design wing and environmental wing.
If we see the actual problem, CDA or Islamabad’s district administration was a silent spectator when people were building homes, commercial towers and other kinds of properties in one of its own sectors. The utility companies were issuing licenses, permits and connections.
The CDA would never resist or stop the illegal activity. In this regard, the Authority stands unable to capture the land for the rightful owners of plots in Islamabad. These rightful owners have paid millions of rupees to CDA. Some of these payments were made several years ago. The CDA’s inability to provide plots to the owners of sectors E-12, G-12 and other farther sectors remain a dream. Moreover, it’s important to see how CDA is supporting land grabbers in Islamabad?
The illegal constructions are found in literally every part of the city. For instance, the entire Meher Abadi area in Sector G-12 (opposite G-11) is captured by residents who sell it on a plain stamp paper. The current population of Meher Abadi area is into several thousands. Yet, the CDA could not evacuate the property from land grabbers.
Moreover, there are hundreds of transactions going on in Revenue Office of Islamabad for transfer of property. Yet, CDA has not been able to convince one of their own other government departments to stop the activity.
Understanding the Zones of Islamabad
Capital Development Authority (CDA) was established on June 14, 1960. An executive order issued on June 24, 1960 entitled the Pakistan Capital Regulation, to be superseded by the CDA Ordinance issued on June 27, 1960. The CDA Ordinance constituted the authority, laid down its charter and defined its power, duties, functions and responsibilities. CDA is the custodian of Pakistan’s capital.
The area of Islamabad is 906.50 square kilometers. A further 3626 square kilometers area is known as the Specified Area, with the Margalla Hills in the north and northeast.
Islamabad city is divided into five major zones: Zone I, Zone II, Zone III, Zone IV, & Zone V. Zone IV is the largest in area while Zone I is the largest developed residential area. Zone 1 is divided into sectors. Each residential sector is identified by a letter of the alphabet and a number, and covers an area of approximately 2 km × 2 km.
The zones of Islamabad identify the 5 major regions in the city with proper planning for residential, commercial or forestry purposes.
Construction Ban in Zone III of Islamabad
The construction ban in Zone III of Islamabad is focused towards ensuring the oxygen supply to the city. This ensures a huge green cover to the city with millions of residents. The area is marked as the exclusive area with the owners having no right to fully build their homes or conduct any commercial activity. It ensures that there is enough green space with structured planning. However, the construction continues. And, Islamabad greenery will end soon with this illegal construction.
Currently, a simple practice is adopted where the anyone who transfers the land receives a stamp on transfer letter.
The CDA has been unable to control the transfer of land from the Islamabad district administration.
A number of local and overseas investors invest in these properties considering them legal. After all, the Government of Pakistan gives them an official transfer deed. The local administration supports them. And the CDA sits silently for years.
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Resultantly, there are thousands of Pakistanis unknowingly buying the plots, building their homes, installing the utility connections and planning to live a peaceful life in the future. They don’t know that some fine day our courts may wake up to inform them: they are illegal in the homes they have bought in millions of rupees.
What if Supreme Court wakes up late?
The local powerful mafias are duping the investors and common citizens. They claim that there isn’t any issue in buying property here or constructing homes or commercial buildings. They know that the local administration and CDA will keep silent for reasons only known to them. The powerful tycoons here are stronger than the Chairman of CDA or other local officers. So, no one can initiate action against them.
Yet, what if Supreme Court wakes up someday? What if they realize 10 years later that this construction is illegal. Isn’t Nasla Tower a precedent? But, unfortunately, the same Supreme Court, the Islamabad High Court and other local judicial organs are unable to stop all this construction under their very own nose, even!