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May 25, 2018

Of PTI’s 5m new homes pledge & 26-year-old incomplete Regi Model Town housing project


May 25, 2018

PESHAWAR: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI)’s pledge to build five million new homes in the first 100 days of their possible upcoming government under “Prime Minister Imran Khan” has stunned many in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as they questioned the party leadership for failing to complete the 26-year-old Regi Model Town housing project during their five-year tenure.

“It was a bit shock than a surprise to me when a person like Imran Khan who could not take a single step in five years for an already launched housing scheme trying to befool people by promising to build five million homes,” remarked Nawab Khattak, a known property dealer, social worker and founder of the Regi Bachawo Tehreek (Save Regi Movement).

“Let me make it clear that this will be done in the first 100 days by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Insha Allah,” Assad Umar said while unveiling the party’s economic agenda in presence of Imran Khan in Islamabad.

The PTI-led government is the fourth provincial government that failed to complete the Regi Model Town launched 26 years ago.

With 27,000 residential plots, it was initiated in 1992 and is the oldest and largest housing project of the province.

It was the first housing project in which most plots were reserved for government employees, including members of the armed forces.

Many plot owners have died anxiously waiting to build their homes in the township.

Property dealer Nawab Khattak said he met Imran Khan a number of times and handed over to him files requesting him to direct the provincial government to complete the development work in Regi to enable people to start living there.

“Like other people I too had great expectations from Imran Khan and reached whenever he visited Peshawar. But I found him no different than conventional politicians,” remarked Nawab Khattak.

Due to lack of ownership by successive governments, the residents of nearby villages in Khyber Agency encroached upon a major portion of Regi by building homes and thus making it a permanent dispute.

Out of five zones, only Zone-III and Zone-IV are in possession of the government while 80 percent of Zone-V is stated to be in state control but plots have not been handed over to the owners due to lack of civil work.

“There are 10,000 plots in Zone-III and Zone-IV and the PTI government didn’t complete development work in these zones in five years. How can we expect PTI to build five million homes in five years,” argued Nawab Khattak.

The successive governments were neither able to complete remaining development work on the two zones nor resolve the land dispute with local tribes.

Nawab Khattak said the previous coalition government of Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) did some development work in Regi and built roads and water schemes and provided electricity to the two zones.

“On February 28, 2012, the late Local Government Minister Bashir Bilour handed over possession of plots in Zone-III and Zone-IV to the owners. The PTI government didn’t take a single step for development of Regi Model Town,” he claimed.

The Peshawar Development Authority (PDA), supposed to develop the public sector housing schemes in the provincial capital, is being accused of spending funds collected from Regi Model Town on other projects.

The PTI government had earlier announced to develop Regi and provide the required facilities to the township but it initiated other housing projects. It could complete none of these projects.

Presently, around 600 houses have been built and dozens are under construction, but except electricity and drinking water, no other facility is available to the residents.

The plot owners formed the Save Regi Movement to put pressure on the government and PDA to complete the remaining development work.

Chief Minister Pervez Khattak in 2016 called a meeting of PDA officials and representatives of the Save Regi Movement and directed the then director general of PDA Mohammad Salim Wattoo to immediately provide facilities to the residents and start construction work on schools and hospitals in the township. This wasn’t done.

Three years ago the residents were told that soon gas facility would be provided to Regi but this commitment hasn’t been met.

The government also didn’t resolve with the military authorities the issue pertaining to the construction of an approach road between Hayatabad and Regi Model Town.

When reached, MPA Shaukat Yousafzai, spokesman for KP government, argued that they would have enough funds if they formed the government in the centre and building five million homes would not be a major challenge.