ISLAMABAD (APP) - The chronic accommodation issue of the federal government employees in Islamabad still remains the pesky one for the Ministry of Housing as a large number of illegal occupants are reluctant to vacate the residences. Previous tactics by the concerned ministry did not dislodge them from the government owned houses due to political interference, favourtism, public backlash and helplessness of concerned government officials. Deeply mired in certain hurdles like paucity of funds for new housing schemes, swift construction on ongoing ones and sufferings of government officials vying for a residence in the house, have brought the Ministry officials to seek help from the Interior Ministry to resolve the long standing issue. A joint committee of Housing and Interior ministries has been formed which would soon give a nod to settle the long standing issue of shortage of accommodation facilities for the federal government employees. There are approximately 2,000 houses, apartments and flats owned by the government but occupied by illegal people for a long time creating problems for the concerned Ministry already beset with a gigantic task of providing residential units to about 100,000 employees. These occupants are reluctant to leave the residences despite the fact that they had been retired. Moreover, as many as 1,000 persons have taken the matter to courts while others have given the allotted houses on rent. There are also a number of people who have died but their decedents or widows were reluctant to vacate them. Minister for Housing and Works Rehmatullah Kakar has admitted that a large number of housing units out of total 24,000 have been occupied by alien people. The ministry had informed a Senate Standing Committee that about 400 houses were under the illegal occupation of police in Islamabad who had not even paid any rent or utility bills. The estate office said that there are only 22,000 housing units whereas the number of government employees entitled for official accommodation runs into 100,000. This is the main reason behind the problem of government servants in getting residence in the federal capital. On the other hand, the occupants of G-6 quarters have been exploiting the issue by putting pressure from various political circles to cancel the eviction orders. According to Ministry officials, a large number of retired government employees had occupied official accommodation in G-6 despite their retirement from service since long. Some of the occupants have also sublet these houses on rents and not paying rents to government thus depriving the national kitty of millions of rupees. Some of the people in these quarters have set up their clinics, tuition centres, beauty clinics while some of them are living in their own houses or shifted to their home towns but still have not handed over the official accommodation to Housing Ministry. Minister for Housing and Works Rehmatullah Kakar told this agency that the ministry would not give ownership rights to the illegal occupants of the government houses and flats in G-6 sector rather they would have to vacate the unlawfully occupied residences. I have clearly said on floor of the House that the illegal occupants of G-6 sector would not be given the ownership rights, he added. However, he said, the ministry could facilitate them in getting accommodation in some other sector by providing them soft loans to acquire houses on economical rates as compared to market. Many political leaders in the past during election campaign promised the G-6 residents for ownership rights but after being elected they did not fulfil their promises. Giving ownership rights to the occupants was not possible as it would set a new precedence and create further problems for the government and in future, residents of other sectors would also demand the same favour. The ministry has also sought help from the local political leaders to get the illegally occupied houses and flats vacated. A government official can retain official accommodation for six months after retirement from service, but many of the retired officials are still living in government accommodation since long, which is totally illegal, the officials of Ministry of Housing commented. The Ministry is under tremendous pressure from a large number of government officials waiting to be accommodated in officials residences. Unless the illegally occupied accommodation is vacated, they will have to wait for their turn for a long time.