Wednesday July 17, 2024

Residential plots in Islamabad: PAC debates proposal to scrap quota for journalists, doctors, lawyers

By Asim Yasin
August 24, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Housing and Works told the Public Accounts Committee on Monday that after the establishment of Federal Government Employees Housing Authority, a proposal has been floated to abolish the quota for lawyers, doctors and journalists while the plots be only given to the government employees.

The meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was held under Chairman Rana Tanveer Hussain in which the audit paras of the Ministry of Housing and Works for 2018-19, audit report for 2018-19 of Federal Government Employees Housing Authority, reports on sectors F-14/15 and G-13 Tower, Islamabad, were examined.

Expressing concern over the proposed ban on allotment of government plots to journalists, the PAC sought legal advice from the Law Ministry in that context. It told the committee that earlier it was a Housing Foundation but now it has been converted into authority. The secretary Housing and Works stated that the procedures were changed after the establishment of the authority and now only government employees will get one plot. A two percent quota was fixed for journalists, doctors and lawyers each in 2015-16. The journalists, he said, were given plots after the decision of the prime minister and the Board, but now it is likely to be banned as the departmental Accounting Committee has recommended scrapping of the quotas in the future housing schemes. The audit officials clarified that in 2015-16, plots were given to lawyers and doctors from a quota of federal employees.

Supporting the proposal, PAC member Khawaja Asif suggested that an immediate ban should be imposed on giving plots to journalists and the practice of opening this door after every two to three years should be closed. At this, Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed said the journalists belong to the oppressed class, the generals also get plots in DHA but no one objects against them. Supporting the argument, the Chairman PAC Rana Tanveer Hussain said that politicians are also part of land mafia and they even become ministers on this strength. He said the government officials have become used to taking 10 plots instead of one.

The recent allotment of plots to judges was also hotly debated in the Public Accounts Committee. Rana Tanveer Hussain said that the judges were receiving salary upto Rs one million and besides get plots as well. The chairman PAC said that he knows many judges who took more than one plot. Furthermore, he said salaries ranging from Rs 7 million to Rs 10 million with perks and privileges are being taken in the subordinate departments of the state institutions. The elite class gets its share from everywhere while the poor can't have two meals a day. Similarly, he said the basic salary of an MNA ranges from Rs150,000 to Rs175,000. Khawaja Muhammad Asif deplored that despite getting such low salaries, abuses are hurled at the MNAs. Khawaja Muhammad Asif said that in Punjab, DC Colonies are being established at district level, which has turned into a big business.

Regarding allotment of plots to members of the judiciary, the secretary housing said that after the court orders, a procedure will be worked out with the PM and it is more likely that the plots for judges would be given according to a list given by the chief justice.

Chairman PAC Rana Tanveer Hussain said that there were many complaints about F-14 and F-15 sectors. The DG Housing said that CDA rules were taken into account for allotment in sectors F-14 and F-15. He said that after the court decision, we made payments to landowners. He told the committee that the 400 plots were allotted in Category-1 while 480 plots were reduced in Category-2 and now 4,756 plots have been finally drawn and the FWO will start development work on this project in September.

Senator Talha Mahmood said that 7,000 kanals were required in Thalian, out of 1,400 kanals of land there but “the Ministry of Housing sold 600 canals at Thalian Interchange.” The allegation was challenged by officials of the Ministry of Housing, who said that the land was not sold and it was canceled. The chairman PAC directed that those who have the right should be given plots. He said that he is living in Islamabad since 1985 but has not taken a single plot as yet.