ISLAMABAD - Owners of commercial plazas here in Bara Kahu are left unchecked by the administration of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to overcharge tenants, without fulfilling the legal property requirements for commercial usage. TheNation learnt that most of the traders and businessmen who had hired shops and properties at main bazaar Bara Kahu were facing immense problems regarding the unprecedented surge in the prices of rental lands in the area. The traders told TheNation that on one hand they were being fleeced by the plaza owners, while on the other majority of landowners was not paying property taxes that had been imposed by CDA. "They are charging us as much as they can, but don't pay even a penny to the government in the form of property tax thus multiplying their wealth," deplored a wholesaler from main bazaar Bara Kahu adding that the recent surge in rents was unjustified and unaffordable. The business community alleged that almost all the property owners were not paying property tax due to their personal contacts with CDA officials. "Instead of paying property taxes, the land owners bribe CDA officials in order to escape taxes," a resident revealed. Recently, majority of the landowners in the commercial areas of Bara Kahu has made hundred per cent increase in rental fares. In the recent past, according to traders, the flat rates for commercial plazas located in the area were around Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 for ground floors, Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,500 for upper stories while Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000 for basements. However, the increased rents range between Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 for ground floors, Rs 4,000 to Rs 6,000 for upper stories and Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 for basements. "A lot of traders are forced to wind up their business from the area owing to unaffordable increase in rents," said Ishaq, a butcher who is paying a rent of Rs 5,000 for his hired shop, compared to the previous rental fare of Rs 2,000, just a few months ago. The fares for plazas in the interior Bara Kahu are comparatively lesser as compared to the commercial properties located on main road though these plazas too, have witnessed a rapid increase and traders are finding it difficult to cope with the growing demands of landowners. "A major part of my earnings goes to rent," lamented a barber who runs his shop in the adjoining area of Bara Kahu near main road. Apart from commercial areas in Bara Kahu, the land prices in the residential areas have also surged owing to purchase of plots by some influential political figures and business tycoons. The locals have argued that the prices would further rise after the completion of Bara Kahu link road from main bazaar to adjoining areas of Mohra Noor and launching of Sui gas in the area in upcoming months. The CDA officials must keep their personal interests aside and bring the traders into tax net by collecting property tax from the traders and regulating the prices of rental properties, the local residents and the traders of the area demanded.