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Islamabad Zone-III: Conversion of farmland for housing banned

ISLAMABAD: As a federal commission reviews the master plan of the federal capital, the district administration of the city has decided to impose a ban on the conversion of agricultural land in Zone-III of the city into housing schemes.

The move is aimed at settling the issue of illegal housing societies in the city.

Apart from imposing the ban, the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration linked the conversion of agricultural land to pre-approval from the Capital Development Authority (CDA).

The ICT administration has also decided to transfer the 12 patwaris who had been deployed in the city for an extended period of time apart from limiting their role with residents no longer required to seek documents from them.

Sources revealed that some of the Patwaris had been performing their duties in the same place for more than a decade, hence the chief commissioner transferred them and a notification was issued in this regard.

In a bid to end the patwari culture, ICT administration has also decided to change the titles of finance officers and Patwaris.

Hitherto, Patwaris have been renamed as revenue official while superintendents have been renamed as Circle Revenue Official.

Further, a one-window system has been devised after which the citizens will no longer need to consult a Patwari to acquire land. They will simply need to give an application at the centre for all related documents.

Additional Deputy Commissioner Kamran Cheema said that these measures were aimed at addressing the root of citizen’s complaints regarding land transfer issues in the city and to end the monopoly of Patwaris. “We want to provide better services to the people,” Cheema said.

He added that the district administration has decided to impose a temporary ban on leasing agricultural land.

Moreover, he said that they were working on devising a new method for the sale and purchase of properties which are held jointly.

Saturday’s decision follows similar decisions by the CDA and the ICT administration late last year and earlier this year to computerize the land records system and to simplify the land property transfer form, condensing it to a single page.

The move comes as a 12-member federal commission reviews the Master Plan of the city, including regularisation of illegal construction in the Bani Gala area in Zone-IV of the federal capital.

In its maiden meeting earlier this week, the commission decided to seek input from citizens through an online input mechanism and incorporate it into the central plan of the city.

Participants of the meeting mutually agreed that input from all stakeholders must be taken into consideration. For this purpose, an online input mechanism will be devised to incorporate citizen’s input while revising the city’s Master Plan.

The meeting decided that all departments will be taken on board and a transparent process will be key in revising the Islamabad’s Master Plan. The second meeting of the commission will be held during the next week and progress on decisions taken in the first meeting would be discussed.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 20th, 2019.

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