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October 18, 2018

Over Rs15 bn govt housing scam unattended

National

October 18, 2018

ISLAMABAD: While the federal government is all set to launch a highly ambitious five million housing scheme, there is an unattended scandalous case of the government’s commercial housing scheme -- Park Enclave -- that was sold for over Rs15 billion but yet to be delivered to hundreds of Pakistanis, both local and overseas, who paid their hard earned millions but could not get plots despite years’ long delay.

Launched by the CDA with the attractive slogan “The Jewel of Islamabad” during the last PPP government in 2011 and then extended in 2014 and 2015 during the PML-N regime, the Park Enclave has been used by government to pocket billions of rupees but failed to keep its promise of giving possession of plots within stipulated time period.

Phase-I of the project launched in 2011 was to be developed and delivered to those who had purchased the plots in commercial rates, in January 2013 while the Phase-II of Park Enclave was to be delivered by end of 2015 or early 2016. In 2011, the one kanal plot was sold for Rs12 million, while in the second phase, four years later, the price of the same size plot was Rs22 million.

After the lapse of eight years, more than 50 owners of plots in Park Enclave-I are still waiting for the possession, whereas not even a single plot in Phase-II has been developed or handed over to any buyer as yet.

Sources said an official in the CDA confirmed that the authority had defrauded the people by making false promise of developing the sector and handing over the possession in a stipulated time period while concealing the fact that the Authority itself had not the possession of the land at the time of project’s launch.

Neither anyone has been held accountable for cheating the public nor any serious effort has been made to get the land retrieved from adverse possession to complete the project and handover plots to those who had done the mistake of posing their confidence in a government authority.

“How can one trust the government with such failures and deceits on part of government departments,” a source said.

Interestingly, on August 29, 2018 Federal Ombudsman Syed Tahir Shahbaz after hearing the complaints of Park Enclave affectees had directed the chairman CDA to take disciplinary action against the officials for delay in the acquisition of land for this project. The Federal Ombudsman had also directed the CDA to complete the land acquisition process and start development work of Park Enclave within a month so the allottees waiting for the possession of plots since last seven years should be handed over their plots. This order of the Ombudsman, however, fell on deaf ears of the authority.

The PTI government has announced to launch Naya Pakistan Housing Project on government lands with public private partnership for the low-income citizens. However, the repute of the government departments in past remained extremely poor as even the development authority of the federal capital failed to deliver in its last three housing projects despite taking huge sums of money from innocent citizens. It remains to be seen that how the state machinery will deliver five million houses when it has failed to complete the existing schemes.

This has shaken the confidence of ordinary citizens even in the government departments. Senior officials of the CDA are reluctant to talk to the media on Park Enclave’s scam. According to an official source, the present management neither takes the responsibility as the project was launched much before them nor feel pressed to complete it because of government’s indifference.

In a previous response to The News on the subject, the CDA had admitted in writing that the authority had announced and launched the mega housing project with the name of Park Enclave in the federal capital (now known as Park Enclave, Phase-I) without having physical possession of land. It was added that despite its failure complete Park Enclave’s Phase-I, the CDA announced extension of Phase-I and Phase-II in 2014 and 2015 respectively that too without having the possession of the land for the housing scheme.

In its written response in 2017, the CDA had admitted that it couldn’t acquire complete land even for Phase-I of the Park Enclave project after the lapse of seven long years. The CDA had even admitted that no action whatsoever was initiated against those who were involved in fraud of launching the scheme with possession of land or for their continued failure to deliver the project.

According to the CDA sources, the authority has now linked the fate of Park Enclave with the future of Kuri Model village. There was no such condition attached while launching the Park Enclave or extending it but now the authority is using the excuse of first clearing Kuri Model village land from adverse possession to get the Park Enclave land cleared from those who are sitting there.

The CDA claimed that until 2017 (six years after launching) it managed to get possession of 92 percent of land for phase-I. While the previous governments of the PPP and PML-N showed no interest to clear the Park Enclave, Federal Ombudsman Syed Tahir Shahbaz in his order in August this year directed the CDA to complete the land acquisition process and start development work of Pak Enclave, so the allottees waiting for the possession of plots since last seven years should be handed over their plots. The Federal Ombudsman Secretariat after almost seven hearings had concluded the matter and issued the judgement.

“The facts and circumstances as elicited from the record available and file certainly make it clear without any iota of doubt that the Agency has failed to lend proper map and form to the project of phase-I extension and Phase-II as a whole,” declared the Ombudsman judgement.

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