ISLAMABAD: A state of confusion seems engulfing the deliverance of Naya Pakistan Housing Society and development scheme as no mentionable work has been done on ground so far.
The increase in overall construction cost resulting in delays in projects seems to be a major challenge that the programme is facing to provide 50 lakh housing units for the poor and needy of the country.
Multiple projects had been initiated by the Naya Pakistan Housing & Development Authority (NAPHDA) in Lahore, Islamabad, Sargodha, etc., for building housing units and flats for the poor and needy people. However, not even a single brick had been laid so far by NAPHDA itself, The News has learned.
A spokesperson for NAPHDA Asim Shoukat was contacted by this correspondent several times to get details of the housing projects across country. When reached out for the first time, he said three mega projects were being carried out in Lahore, Sanjiani and Islamabad. However, upon investigation, The News learnt from different government bodies that NAPHDA had failed to construct even a single flat till date.
Asim Shoukat said development work was under way at Farash Town Islamabad, one of the main projects which was also visited by Prime Minister Imran Khan in the recent past. On the other hand, the CDA Islamabad tells a different story and says that NAPHDA had nothing to do with development work at Farash Town.
When The News asked the spokesperson about the CDA viewpoint, he said NAPHDA was just providing subsidies to different government bodies like CDA in Islamabad, LDA in Lahore and had also engaged independent welfare foundations such as Akhuwat and Workers Welfare Fund (WWF).
Asim claimed that NAPHDA had built a total of 20,000 housing units across Pakistan, and over 45,000 were still under construction. He said those housing units were being built in collaboration with Akhuwat Foundation and WWF.
An official of Akhuwat, when contacted by The News, said all the work relating to houses construction for the poor was being done by the Foundation only with no involvement of NAPHDA at all. He said something might be in the pipeline by NAPHDA but nothing had been finalised till date.
A senior administrative official of Islamabad told The News that all work in Farash Town was being done by the government and not NAPHDA. When asked about NAPHDA’s claim of providing subsidies, the official said that not a single subsidy was given by NAPHDA for the development of flats and apartments in Farash Town. The official also said that no budget or relief in anyway was provided by NAPHDA.
When Asim Shoukat was questioned about the Islamabad administration and Akhuwat Foundation replies, he said NAPHDA was just acting as an umbrella which was overseeing all those projects. He added that they were only responsible for giving clients to the builders and spotting out the most deserving ones (poor people) to be awarded with housing units.
It has been almost a year when projects of NAPHDA in Sargodha (flats) and Lahore (CD City Apartments) were launched. Prime Minister Imran Khan himself participated in the opening ceremony of the two projects. After queries, The News learnt from different sources that not a single brick had been laid yet for the construction of those flats in any of the above mentioned locations.
Asim Shoukat said that over Rs80 billion had been acquired as loans from the State Bank of Pakistan for the Naya Pakistan Housing Society & Development Scheme and for subsidies for the poor.
The News contacted different companies and builders to get an idea of increase in construction material prices during the PTI government period, from 2018 till date. The rates of essentials needed for construction of a house showed that over 40 per cent price of construction material had increased during these years. The cost of cement in 2018-19 was around Rs480 per 50kg bag, which has now increased to Rs710/bag.
The price of a brick went up from Rs12 to Rs18. The price of steel stainless grill was Rs600/ foot, which is currently available for Rs1,100. The cost of labour had also increased by 40 per cent. Likewise, the cost of barring (sarya) has increased to Rs180,000 per ton from Rs90,000/ton in 2018-2019.
The News asked Asim Shoukat if the increase in construction cost had any impact on the programme, he said the government was in the process to increase the subsidies for buyers and was also giving incentives to the builders so that the programme gets executed. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan had himself said that subsidies would be increased and incentives would be given to builders.