Islamabad - The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice have suggested the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to revisit zoning regulations and allow reduction in benchmark of acreage for private housing schemes .

The suggestions from the two bodies came in a report after a female parliamentarian raised a question in the upper house of the parliament regarding the ‘steps being taken by the government against illegal housing societies in ICT’.

NAB said CDA needs to revisit sub-zoning regulations, allow for private housing in the sub-zone and reduce limit of acreage for a housing scheme.

Simultaneously, the accountability bureau has asked CDA that it should take immediate steps by initiating land-acquisition proceedings in Zone 3 to stop further change in landscape of Margalla Hills National Park and save it from the illegal occupants.

The senate body held that the regulations of CDA do not provide space for development of housing schemes with less than 400 kanals. Many housing schemes declared as illegal have less than 400 kanals area. The civic agency may revise the regulations and merger of the already developed housing schemes shall be ensured, the committee recommended.

NAB believes that CDA remained dormant on the issue of “mushroom growth of housing societies.” Regarding the construction in non-permissible zone, most of the land is owned by private individuals and the civic agency failed to stop development and construction of houses in the town as the land was not acquired by CDA, it held and added that the authority has no plans to acquire land from individuals. NAB said CDA Zoning Regulations-1992 seem undecided on the fate of schemes which existed before zoning regulations 1992. It further said in the report that CDA is sitting on applications for LOP/NOC since 1997.

On the other hand, the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice, according to the report, has recommended that the role of CDA officials, ICT administration and others regarding mushroom growth of illegal housing societies falling within the jurisdiction of ICT/CDA must be identified.

It observed that in non-permissible zones, small private housing schemes were developed on inherited land. The owners developed such schemes in order to get benefit from the market trend of higher prices.

“In view of this situation, CDA shall acquire maximum land and develop proper sectors especially in zones 1 and 3 and parts of zone 2, 4 and 5 where private housing schemes are not allowed. CDA should take immediate steps by initiating land-acquisition proceedings in zone 3 to stop further change in landscape of Margalla Hills National Park,” the committee recommended.

It further held that in order to secure interest of thousands of bona-fide purchasers of plots and land in illegal schemes, the CDA may consider regularisation of such schemes that existed, were developed or constructed (fully or partially) before zoning regulations 1992 in view of pre-regularisation policy. However, such schemes shall be encouraged to apply for LOP/NOC according to current standards/rules, the committee recommended further.

Giving a background, the senate body said the CDA zoning regulations 1992 divided Islamabad into five zones. Private housing was allowed in zone 2 and 5 only, while agro-farming schemes were allowed in zone 4. The zoning regulations were amended in 2010 to sub-divide zone 4 in A, B, C and D. The private housing schemes were allowed in sub-zone B only. However, CDA has acquired only 1,000 acres area out of the total 21,000 acres land in sub-zone C.

“The team survey revealed that majority of the illegal schemes are existing in sub-zone C (earmarked for public buildings and schemes) where private housing is not allowed. The CDA may consider amendment in regulations of zone 4, keeping in view the order of the Supreme Court passed in 2008 regarding illegal schemes in zone 4,” the senate body recommended.

It said in order to ensure provision of basic amenities in illegal housing schemes and save them from disenfranchisement under CDA rules, the civic agency may revisit rules to regularise the already developed illegal housing schemes at reasonable cost per kanal to the developers of such schemes and provision of basic amenities at cost to the schemes.

The committee observed that ICT administration and CDA do not have a fast coordination mechanism. With regard to the housing schemes , it observed, at times the ICT and CDA rules work at cross purposes. “CDA and ICT shall remove such anomalies and align their rules. Especially, the ICT administration shall obtain NOC from CDA before entering a registered document in the name of an individual who purchases a plot in a housing schemes in CDA limits,” the committee further recommended. There are over 100 illegal housing societies in the ICT limits.