ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday announced that a new legislation would be introduced to control land grabbing in the capital and to take stern action against elements involved in this practice.
He was speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony of three projects – 7th Avenue Interchange, rehabilitation and expansion of I.J. Principal Road and Sihala Flyover construction – at the Pak-China Friendship Centre.
The much-awaited event was attended by Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on CDA Affairs Ali Nawaz Awan and MNAs Raja Khurram Nawaz and Sadaqat Abbasi. CDA Chairman Amer Ali Ahmed and Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqaat were also present on the occasion.
Talking about the menace of land grabbing, Prime Minister Khan said he had inquired from Inspector General of Police Islamabad Qazi Jamilur Rehman why the “Qabza group” (land grabbers) remained strong in the capital, to which he replied that the police arrested people involved in the malpractice but due to weak legislation, managed to obtain bail from the court of law.
Mr Khan said the mafia was emboldened due to lenient punishment and high monetary benefits.
“There was no deterrent,” he added.
It may be mentioned here that earlier this year, the prime minister had directed that action be taken against land mafia in Islamabad. Acting on the directives, the capital administration and police arrested several alleged land grabbers but majority of them managed to obtain bail.
The prime minister said the land grabbing issue was not restricted to Islamabad alone, but was faced by other cities of the country as well due to rapid urbanisation.
He further said the government was taking steps to improve environment of Lahore and Peshawar.
Talking about the road projects, PM Khan said Islamabad was in need of new road projects.
“I appreciate CDA for launching these road projects,” he said
He also directed the civic authority to start more tree plantation campaigns, saying that Islamabad was facing rapid urbanisation and quantum of growth it witnessed from 2010 to 2020 was equal to that which took place between 1960 and 2010.
The prime minister warned that if steps were not taken in the coming years, people of Islamabad would be faced with huge traffic and pollution issues.
Therefore, he said, to counter negative impacts of rapid urbanisation, the government had chalked out a strategy that included master planning of cities, protection of green areas, with focus on forestation and tree plantations. He said Islamabad’s master plan was obsolete and its revision was imperative.
It is relevant to note here that the federal government had formed a commission in Dec 2018 for the revision of Islamabad’s blue print, but the commission and the civic authority has so far failed to hire professional consultants due to various technicalities.
PM Khan also lauded the CDA’s performance in generating revenue, saying that when Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) took over, the civic authority’s budget was in deficit, but today it had Rs36 billion in its account.
For the fiscal year 2021-22, the CDA earmarked a whopping Rs156 billion budget whereas last year’s budget was Rs49 billion.
Speaking on the occasion, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said the CDA had revamped 200 of the city’s 240 parks and would be establishing more.He said an exclusive bazaar would also be set up for women only.