Commercial use of public parks irks Bahria Town residents

Commercial use of public parks irks Bahria Town residents

Commercial use of public parks irks Bahria Town residents

ISLAMABAD: Bahria Town has illegally converted 64.40 kanal (41,636 Sq. yards) land designated for parks into commercial plots in Phase-IV, Daily Times has learnt.


Bahria Town has earned around Rs 1.5 billion by selling amenity land. Taking notice of the protests waged by the residents, Capital Development Authority (CDA) and courts have barred the Bahria Town from violation of by-laws.


Daily Times has acquired Bahria Town’s original layout plan for the project in Phase-IV, which was approved by the CDA. The current work being done is different from the original layout. Bahria Town has converted 69.40 Kanal (41636 Sq. yards) land reserved for park into ‘Marina Commercial’ by creating 60 plots of five marla each.


The original plan named ‘Phase-III-E and IV Bahria Town’ was approved by the CDA in 2010. The Phase-IV of this project reserved 258.50 kanal for open spaces and public parks. Moreover, the layout plan clearly mentioned 69.40 kanal green area with title ‘Linear Park’ alongside the Corniche Road.


As per CDA rules, for any project to get approval, there must be four percent land reserved for public places, two percent for graveyards and eight percent for parks and open spaces of the total proposed land. Bahria Town had also obtained no objection certificate (NOC) under the described conditions and reserved appropriate land for abovementioned purposes at the time of approval.


Daily Times spoke to a resident near this site who confirmed the presence of building for a zoo on Corniche Road. “In order to attract masses to this land, Bahria Town had proposed a zoo. People became excited and purchased the plots on high rates,” he said.


A real estate business agent spoke to the Daily Times on the condition of anonymity, and said, “The price of each plot in Marina Commercial is between Rs 20 to 30 million and Bahria Town has earned around Rs 1.5 billion rupees by selling 60 plots.”


Various departments took action against Bahria Town. The CDA Planning Department, which approved the original layout plan, has taken the position that the current change in the original layout plan of the Bahria Town stand in serious violation of rules and regulations. Whereas, the CDA Enforcement Wing’s high officials said that they have launched an action against the people who are constructing commercial buildings there, but due to lack of force and resources they were not able to stop the construction work on the site.


Responding to a question as why CDA was not directly taking action, the civic body spokesperson Ramzan Sajjid seemed agitated and said he is not updated in this case so he is not in position to give details.


Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Director Ahsan Rafiq Kiani said, “Bahria Town had submitted the environment impact assessment report before launching of its project Phase I-VI. If it violates anything which can harm the environment then legal action should be taken against them.” But, the director blamed the CDA for not ensuring the original layout plan and said, “CDA is the approving authority and it should take action against the violators of environmental law and regulations.”


Meanwhile, the residents of the Bahria Town have filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court to stop the construction of commercial buildings on the land specified for the zoo. The court has directed Bahria Town to stop this project until the final decision, but the construction on three buildings is currently ongoing, which may be the contempt of court, a source told Daily Times.


To seek the version of Bahria Town (Pvt) Limited, the Daily Times contacted several persons including Colonel (r) Khaliq (who is generally used to respond queries regarding Bahria Town), director marketing Nida Zahoor, QasirQadir (legal wing) and Tariq Shahzad Ch (executive marketing and operations), but all of them answered that they are were not updated in this regard