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CDA failed to take possession of ‘encroached’ land, NA told

CDA failed to take possession of ‘encroached’ land, NA told

ISLAMABAD: Most of the Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) land that is considered ‘encroached’ or ‘illegally occupied’ is actually inhabited by people who have traditionally dwelled there for many years.

This was how CADD Minister Tariq Fazal Chaudhry explained the high incidence of encroachment and land grabbing on CDA land before the National Assembly on Wednesday.

Responding to a calling attention notice that highlighted the “ever-increasing encroachment of CDA land by land-grabbers”, he claimed that nearly all the land that was encroached or illegally occupied had not been taken possession of in the 1960s.

“The land that was marked for immediate use by departments was taken possession of, but land that was not to be utilised immediately was not taken into CDA’s possession,” the minister explained.

In several cases, CDA had acquired the land, but its residents were not willing to vacate due to disputes over the amount of remuneration they received. There are also areas, which were supposed to be acquired by CDA, but are now completely populated by local dwellers as the acquisition never took place.

The minister said that he hesitated to call such people qabizeen, or encroachers, instead suggesting they be referred to as mutasireen, or affected people.

“There is no doubt that barren CDA land has been occupied by outsiders, but the CDA Enforcement Department has taken several actions in 2016 to avert this situation,” he said, listing CDA’s anti-encroachment measures.

He claimed that the authority had conducted 1,213 anti-encroachment drives, razed 2,662 structures and seized 7,258 articles while imposing fines to the tune of Rs500,000-800,000.

But when PML-N’s Asiya Naz Tanoli cross-questioned the minister about action taken against complicit CDA officers; he admitted that such irregularities could not have been committed without the connivance of officials.

“We have surveyed 50-60,000 kanals of land in order to initiate the process of clearing them. But 90pc of this land is currently occupied by affected people or traditional dwellers. They have lived here for the past 400-500 years. If they have any remaining dues with CDA, we are trying to accommodate them after settling their dues.”

He also said that the PM had approved in principle the establishment of model villages to accommodate these traditional dwellers, along the lines of the Kuri model village.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2016

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