Over 500 senior civil servants facing forced eviction
By Zahid Gishkori
ISLAMABAD: In the corridors of power in Islamabad, over 500 senior civil servants are being evicted from their official residences by the federal government.
Going goes off for 514 government servants (BS-17 to BS-22) when federal government cancelled the allotment of their official residences warning them to vacate houses within 14 days, the deadline expires today (Mar 18).
“Non-compliance of above notice shall lead to vacation of these family houses by force in accordance with the provisions contained in Federal Land and Buildings (Recovery of Possession) Ordinance 1965,” read one of 514 notices issued to civil servants living in Fatima Jinnah Hostel (78 officers), Federal Lodge-1 (93 officers), Federal Lodge-II (58 officers), Chumari Lodge (36 officers), 48 family suites (48 officers) and Gulshan Jinnah Complex Islamabad (201 officers).
“Government is evicting hundreds of civil servants from their housing facilities at a time when more than 43, 000 federal employees are already waiting for official accommodations in federal capital,” a senior bureaucrat told this correspondent on Sunday.
Civil servants who are legally entitled to official accommodations of above-mentioned lodges are facing serious pressure from the Estate Office/Police to conduct an operation to evict them, he revealed to The News.
A senior officer Tanvir Malik who was living in Gulshan Jinnah Complex Islamabad suffered a heart attack a moment after he received eviction notice last week, added the bureaucrat who sought anonymity.
Ministry of Housing and Works has around 17,501 official accommodations while 171,237 employees are working in the federal government departments and its autonomous organisations, another informed official said. Federal capital is in shortage of 120,000 residential units for the government employees, said the officials, adding that shortfall is attributed mainly to the ban on construction of new government housing units since 1995. The News spoke to over two dozen civil servants who claimed that the government wanted to accommodate their blue-eyed officers in these lodges.
“This is the very reason [to accommodate their favourite officers] we have knocked the court’s door for justice as we are legally entitled and believe that the court would suspend the notices,” one of civil servants told this correspondent.
Minister of State for Housing and Works Dr Shabir Qureshi, however, was of the view that eviction notices were issued to civil servants in light of court orders as per policy as they were living beyond 9 months. Ministry of Housing and Works, which dispelled the impression of accommodating any favourite government employee, is also planning to review its existing policy to accommodate the entitled government officers affected by the court’s ruling, an informed official said, adding that “around 130 non-entitled officers under new policy might not be accommodated by the federal government this time.”
The petition (ICA), however, filed by Ministry of Housing and Works in Islamabad High Court (IHC), also available with The News, seemed vindicating stance of civil servants living in above mentioned federal accommodations as stating that “Ministry [of Housing] erroneously submitted para-wise comments in Para (6) under hostel accommodation rules 1983 instead of Allotment Policy-2009 which is referred by court [IHC] in para 11 of the order in the said ICA—in hostel accommodations no time frame has been given for retention of hostel accommodation for government employees — that the impugned order dated Feb 7, 2019 is against the rights of employees/persons as they have not been heard by the court. It is principle of natural justice that no person can be condemned unheard.”
The ministry went into ICA against an IHC’s last month order where a single member judge bench gave ruling on a non-entitled government employee’s plea seeking relief for prolonging his stay in Gulshan Jinnah Complex.
“We are not only lawful allottees of above mentioned accommodations but have been living here with their families so we have requested the court to protect our shelters,” a representative (BS-20 officer) of victims told this correspondent.
As many as 16,807 federal government employees have applied for allotment of government accommodations since June, 2013 under the new policy set by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, added the informed officials. The federal government has already acquired rented accommodations for some 21,000 employees by paying them around Rs4 billion under house rent allowances move, informed the official. PM Adviser on Media Iftikhar Durrani, however, did not respond to queries posed by The News till the filing of this story.
Pakistan needs almost 12 million housing units, according to independent researchers, ABAD’s Real Estate Research and Lamudi’s White Paper 2017 findings. Only 1 percent of the housing units developed annually cater to 68 percent of total some 220 million population, comprising people who earn a maximum monthly income of Rs30,000, opined the independent researchers.