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March 21, 2019

‘Vertical Housing’ — effective idea that came a little bit late!


March 21, 2019

Islamabad : It was so good to listen to the Prime Minister Imran Khan talking about going for ‘vertical housing’ to fulfill the promise he made with the poor and lower-middle class population of the country to provide them housings.

The wisdom behind the decision, or is it still just an idea, is indeed appreciable. This is the ideal solution to prevent the fertile agricultural lands being gobbled by the private housing societies, especially in the province of the Punjab. Also, it will stop the existing cities and towns in sprawling in all directions in an un-planned manner.

But this is not the first time that this idea was conceived and even put into practice. And for this, one must appreciate the Capital Development Authority (CDA), because, probably, somewhere back in 1993 or 1994 the Authority decided to re-build whole of sector G-6, one of the thickly populated sectors, accommodating majority of government servants of all grades.

The then Chairman of the Authority and the CDA Board, assessing the future needs for a greater requirement of housing units in the federal capital, especially for the government employees, as well as to cut down the ever escalating maintenance costs of the old government houses, constructed back in 1960s, decided to construct multi-storey flats in sector G-6/1 in the first phase.

The whole plan was to identify suitable open spaces in sector G-6/1, construct 200 flats of ‘A-category’, shift the people living in 200 old quarters into these flats, demolish the old quarters, and construct more flats on the cleared land.

The plan was to keep the process going till the time all the old housing units, constructed back in 1960-61 are replaced with the new flats of all categories all over the Sector G-6 of the federal capital.

The plan would have helped create over four times the number of housing units, enhancing the federal government’s capacity to provide accommodations to the government officers and officials. On the other hand the, the fringes on all the four sides of each sub-sectors, G-6/1, G-6/2, G-6/3 and G-6/4 would have been turned into commercial areas, providing ample space to promote commercial activities and to create space for private offices and business centers.

The first 200 flats of ‘A-category’ were completed by the year 1997 at a cost of Rs100 million at three locations selected by the Authority and the residents of the close-by residents living in old quarters were asked to shift there so that the old quarters could be demolished for construction of more flats.

However, the residents refused to vacate the old quarters because, in a political initiative, the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, has announced to give ‘ownership rights’ to the occupants of these quarters at nominal cost! However, the then President of Pakistan, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, rejected the summary sent to him.

According to the sources in the CDA, there are around 9,800 housing units of ‘A-type’ to ‘G-type’ categories in Sector G-6. “Had the project of constructing multi-storey residential building succeeded according to plan the federal government would have had almost 40,000 residential units with much better drainage/sewage system and civic amenities like better parks, recreation centers, schools.

“Also, as most of the government offices are located in Pak Secretariat or in other buildings in sectors G-5/F-5, G-6 and F-6 it would have been a great convenience for the government officers and officials to reach office easily,” the sources in the CDA said.

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