Broad commercial activities reported in housing societies

  • Residents demand action against infamous ‘China cutting’

ISLAMABAD: The rampant speed with which commercial activities have started to increase in the residential areas of the housing societies around the capital cause nuisance for residents and await immediate action from the civic authorities.

In PWD Housing Society, Doctors Society, Media Town, Burma Town, Ghauri Town, the residents of these private housing societies have aired their concerns about the infamous ‘China’ cutting and conversion of the residential plots into the commercial and demand similar action against this illegal practice like an anti-encroachment drive in recent days.

In dozens of the housing societies around the capital, the conversion of the residential plots into the commercial property has become a norm and is responsible for causing huge restraint on the right of ways, gas connections, and other amenities.

Last week, as reported by this paper, the stringent steps taken by the Building Control Section has led the administrations of 54 of the approved housing societies have submitted affidavits to the Capital Development Authority to get residential and commercial construction approved by the civic agency.

It is estimated that the step will not only generate revenue worth two billion rupees for the agency but will also help regulate the construction and infrastructure. According to documents, the CDA chairman has formed an eight-member committee and tasked it with revising the CDA Building Regulation 1963 & 2005, ICT Land Disposal Regulations to rules and the zoning regulations to rules and proposed regulations.

It is expected that the decision to regulate these societies will also curb the China cutting that is rampant across them. The practice of the ‘China cutting’ means resizing and cutting up plots designated for providing amenities to the public at large into the residential and commercial plots, changing the title of land in order to mint money. This practice is not only limited to areas near the Rawal Dam and the Islamabad Expressway, as G-13 and E-11 are also victim of the cutting.

It is pertinent to mention here that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had filed a reference in the Accountability Court against officers of the Pakistan Public Works Department Employees Cooperative Housing Society for their misuse of the authority in converting residential and amenity plots into commercial ones back in April. The officials concerned were involved in the conversion of amenity plots into commercial.

A similar face-off ensued between PHAF and CDA when former converted amenity areas into residential plots earlier this year, the Pakistan Housing Authority Foundation (PHAF) and CDA had come face to face over the issue. While, CDA has decided to deny PHAF permission to convert its amenity plots into residential one in Officers Residencia, Kuri Road in Islamabad. The stalemate continues.

City managers, according to sources, have plans to ‘resolve’ the perennial issue of the illegal constructions that inundates the entire city, especially in the housing societies by amending the zoning bye-laws. Previously, CDA had decided to amend its zoning control policy of 2007 for many sectors, including the housing authorities and sectors after thorough deliberation. However, the board while showing the willingness to regularise the properties.

Talking to Pakistan Today, CDA spokesperson said that the civic agency has its eyes set on the task of regulating and ridding the societies of the illegal cutting and in the past has taken action against those involved in the illegal practice. “There are departmental inquiries initiated and concluded. Now with the affidavits by 54 housing societies given to the civic authority, the process of streamlining these societies in general and commercial property, in particular, will be streamlined,” he said.