ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration to lift the ban on private land transfers in Zone III, imposed to stop unauthorised construction in that area.
Sources said Mr Khan, while chairing a meeting on Capital Development Authority (CDA) affairs, ordered the ban to be lifted because he argued that the right of bona fide owners to transfer land cannot be taken away under the law.
He said the CDA and ICT administration should ensure that even if land transfers take place in accordance with law, there should be a check on construction activity.
A senior ICT administration officer said the administration issued a directive to this effect after the prime minister’s order, but adding that the formal transfer of land will be started today (Tuesday).
Formal transfer of land to begin today, deputy commissioner says
Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqaat also confirmed that the ban has been lifted.
“We completed file work to life the ban following the prime minister’s directive a few days ago. The formal transfer will begin from tomorrow,” he told Dawn.
He said the ban was imposed a few years ago to stop unauthorised construction. New construction is not permitted in Zone III under the CDA’s zoning regulations, and owners of old houses may only renovate or expand their homes. The rest of the land in the area is reserved for agriculture.
However, in the absence of any regulatory efforts, unacquired land in the zone is dotted with thousands of unregulated buildings. Some developers have even launched housing projects in the area, which lies at foot of the Margalla Hills.
Officials in the CDA said zoning regulations need to be strictly implemented on unacquired land.
“Lifting the ban on Zone III is a good decision as the government cannot take away citizens’ right to buy and sell their land, but a proper check is needed and no unauthorised construction should take place there,” an official from the CDA said.
In an advertisement, the CDA has advised people not to invest in Zone III, which comprises the Margalla Hills National Park and other protected ranges, forests and unacquired land, and areas such as Shah Allah Ditta, Chontra, Lakhwal, Banigala, Saidpur, Malpur, Bhara Kahu, Kot Hathial and Sangjani.
There has already been massive construction on private land in this area, as the CDA did not undertake any meaningful measures to stop it.
The CDA and ICT’s ban on the transfer of land in the zone for the last couple of years also greatly inconvenienced citizens. At the same time, sources said, the illegal sale of houses and land continued while the ban was in place as people were selling their land on stamp papers.
Zone III consists of 50,393 acres. Other than the national park, 17,000 acres are privately owned but owners cannot build homes there, nor will the CDA acquire their land.
Sources said the commission the government formed to revise Islamabad’s master plan is also looking into the issues of Zone III.