No house to live in!


The acute shortage of housing units for government employees in Pakistan’s federal capital of Islamabad can be gauged from the fact that out of more than 500,000 government employees only 3,200 (0.64 percent) get this facility, the Peninsula reported.
According to rules, every government servant is entitled to accommodation while serving in government departments. The problem of accommodation became grave during the previous government, which did not take any step to develop new housing.
Instead, it had directed the ministry concerned to concentrate on providing rented housing to government officers in need of accommodation. But this facility was not extended to all government employees. Hundreds of cases are pending for thirty or more years of government employees seeking accommodation. Most of them retired without getting any housing facility during their service.
However, highly placed officials in Islamabad State Office, while confirming the report and requesting anonymity, said that there was acute shortage of government housing in Islamabad. The problem has become aggravated during the last eight years.Recently, following an order by the Supreme Court, the Pakistan People’s Party government formed a hardship committee with the purpose of allotting accommodation to employees whose cases were genuine.
The government servants have to approach the Housing Ministry and get their name included in a list with the committee. The members of the committee would soon meet to decide their cases.
Some government employees said that they had applied some five years ago to get housing facility in accordance with the rules and regulation, but till now they have not received any positive response. A senior official in Islamabad State Office while commenting over the grievances of these employees said that the entire record submitted during the years 2005 to 2007 was destroyed in violence during the Lal Masjid incident. The shortage of houses has aggravated in the capital because new residential units have not been built since 1995, sources said.
A, B, C and D type flats have been built for government employees in different residential sectors and they are being sublet by the residents as one or two rooms, sources said, adding that this had been going on for a long time because of complicated allotment procedures and unavailability of living space in the federal capital, officials said.
A lawyer at the district court said that housing cases made up over 50 percent of the overall backlog of the courts and the number was on the rise because the problem was getting worse every passing day.