Housing Societies — An Animal To Be Tamed

Housing Societies

Licences of Fourteen Housing Societies

The licences of fourteen housing societies have recently been revoked by the Capital Development Authority (CDA). Despite being warned, these societies still did not register with the required offices. In all honesty, this figure only represents the very beginning. 

Islamabad’s terrain is dominated by illegal housing communities. Only 22 of Islamabad’s 200 housing societies are legitimate, and 140 have never requested the necessary CDA approvals. Around 90% of the territory in zones 2, 4, and 5 is thought to be outside of CDA’s jurisdiction. These figures are astounding. 

Model For Future Capital Fallen

Why has a city that was once viewed as the model for a future capital fallen to such disgrace? How could unlawful societies grow throughout ICT without CDA noticing?

Islamabad’s planned and staged development is CDA’s sole obligation under the terms of the Capital Development Ordinance of 1960. However, CDA continued to be a government bureaucracy with an antiquated strategy that was unable to comprehend the draw of Islamabad for immigration. It created a significant amount of surplus demand by failing to revise the plan. 

Housing Stock into Multi-use Medium-rise Flats

The CDA refused to allow the conversion of the existing housing stock into multi-use medium-rise flats because it was caught in its bureaucratic obsession with all dwellings having a maximum of two floors (say six to seven floors). 

In addition, despite numerous recommendations to stop acting as both a regulator and a developer, it did not create a private developer investment framework or building rules because it anticipated a monopoly on land development. 

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Majority of Government Departments

Urban mayhem is the best way to characterize what happened next. Islamabad had developed into a hub for luxury real estate by the 1990s. Every state agency and government division sought a piece of land there because of this new possibility. The majority of government departments, both civilian and military, are engaged in the construction of housing societies, as can be seen by a quick glance at the list of private housing societies. 

The “Procedures and Modalities for the Development of Private Housing/ Farm Housing Schemes in Islamabad Capital Territory Zoning Plan” was the detailed blueprint that CDA later provided for zones 2, 5, and E-11 initially, and then for portions of zone 4 as well. The developers argued that the CDA’s time-consuming and onerous procedures made them reluctant to request permissions. 

No Objection Certificate

A no objection certificate (NOC) can be granted by CDA in an average time of two and a half years and a maximum time of nine and a half years in one case. In the past 30 years, the authority has only given 22 NOCs and 24 letters of permission (LOPs). 

The mechanism was not avoided by the developers either. They are infamous for overselling parcels, maintaining false land ownership paperwork, and failing to finish the construction on schedule. It takes decades for these communities to mature. The typical length of time to complete development work is 12 years, though this can often go on for more than two decades. 

Cooperative Society Statute

For many years, all government departments, agencies, and educational institutions have used the cooperative society statute to carelessly and sporadicly develop land. These developments underpay investors, take years to manifest, and favour the powerful in each agency and nation. They have also served as the target of numerous scams. Yet they are rarely discussed or comprehended! 

The ability of CDA to keep an eye on these abnormalities is limited. In 2017, an audit of CDA revealed that it was engaged in a number of activities, including the issue of NOCs on bogus and false documents and the refusal to cancel NOCs despite receiving a notice from the National Accountability Bureau.

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