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NARC land lease not renewed for non-conforming use

NARC land lease not renewed for non-conforming use

ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has finally broken its silence on its decision not to renew the lease of 1,250 acres land to the National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC) saying it was due to the non-conforming use of the land.

In a report to the National Assembly standing committee on national food security and research, the CDA said in violation of the lease agreement NARC had started constructing colonies for its officers and staff instead of focusing on the agricultural research.

NARC had already requested for the conversion of a considerable land for housing purposes which was neither its mandate nor domain. “It’s better to have a residential sector on commercial basis to generate revenue if NARC is building houses there,” an official explained.

Referring to its summary sent to the prime minister for the conversion of the land into a housing scheme, the CDA said the summary was only a proposal in view of the land use change in 2010 and expiry of the lease and non-renewal since 2005.

The land falls under the municipal limits of Islamabad but no decision has yet been taken and the matter would be decided by the prime minister, it explained.

The CDA moved the summary for generating Rs150 billion by converting the land into a housing society through a private developer. It said with the passage of time, the area had become a hub of residential and commercial activities and agricultural research did not appear to be an appropriate activity at the site.

The report stated that NARC was allowed to build some structures on 120 acres. However, it also requested for the establishment of a colony on 25 acres for its employees. As per the original layout plan, the ground coverage was allowed up to 2250 sq/ft but NARC constructed on over 54,306 sq/ft of land.

The CDA accused NARC of being involved in gross violation of the by-laws and listed 26 structures built without approval of building plans which included a petrol pump.

The 26 structures included the main admin blocks, a bank, technology display centre building, mosque, farm machinery repairing store, agricultural university women hostel, agriculture and biological institute building, genetic resources preservation and research laboratory, plant genetic resources institute, poultry research centre, fish hatchery, livestock research centre, honey, vegetable farm buildings, animal health programme, milk sale centre, animal feed mill and the officer staff colony.

The CDA said under the law it was the owner of the land and NARC was only the lessee. The lessee cannot claim ownership under the law.

The CDA proposed that NARC be given land which was reserved for agricultural purposes by the government. To avoid any controversy or involvement of the CDA, it has itself suggested that the revenue generation process should be carried out through any mode other than the CDA and receipts should be vested with the government.

The Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) in its reply to the CDA objections informed the standing committee that the development of NARC had been carried out according to the details given in various project proposals approved by the competent forum. The CDA had been kept abreast of all such infrastructure developments.

PARC stated that the CDA’s proposed plan was a violation of the original master plan for Zone-IV.

The standing committee deferred its proceedings due to the absence of Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan.

Some of the members said the committee proceedings should have continued in view of the importance of the issue.

Published in Dawn ,July 15th, 2015

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