Illegal housing societies a question mark on LDA’s working

Ali Raza
Thursday, Jun 13, 2024

LAHORE: The mushroom growth of illegal housing schemes and land subdivisions in the provincial capital, besides shattering the confidence of the masses in real estate sector, has also raised serious questions about the working of Lahore Development Authority (LDA).

In an investigation by The News, an illegal land subdivision allegedly sponsored/developed by an MPA of the ruling party has surfaced. The allegedly illegal land subdivision was situated near IEP Town, Sector A, Lahore where the sponsor/developer has completed land leveling and some roads were also constructed. It is pertinent to mention that the LDA wing concerned (Metropolitan Wing) were seen nowhere when the development was going on and no action was taken against the alleged illegal land subdivision at that time. However, after The News pointed out the issue, the department concerned started writing letters to the sponsor/developer and other departments concerned of LDA seeking legal action.

Sources in LDA claimed that this was the normal practice in the LDA and the officers, after a complaint or query, immediately wrote letters to the sponsor/developer and other LDA wings to save their skin and fill the file to avoid any departmental action in future.

Sources added that LDA always avoided action against such big fish due to political pressure. In this case, the scribe visited the site, took pictures of the alleged illegal land subdivision and asked the Chief Metropolitan Planner (CMP) about this land subdivision after which an inquiry was initiated. But the big question is where was the LDA’s concerned ground team and why didn’t they stop the sponsor/developer from committing this illegal act at the initial stage.

LDA’s CMP Faisal Qureshi said the MP wing concerned has issued letter (DMP-II/676 dated May 23, 2024) to the sponsor/developer. However, he refused to share the letter with the scribe terming that it was not ‘public information’ whereas the sponsor/developer was advertising the land to the general public. In LDA’s infrastructure, action against illegal societies/land subdivisions is taken by Director Estate Management (PHS) on the request of MP Wing. In this case, Metropolitan Wing wrote a letter (LDA/DMP-II/686 dated 23/5/24) to DEM (PHS), which stated that action against the illegal housing schem situated near IEP Town Sector A, Lahore.

“It is hereby informed that the field staff during the routine visit of the area has reported that the developer/sponsor of the subject citied illegal land subdivision has started the illegal development work at site without prior approval from LDA,” the letter said, adding the necessary legal action against illegal housing scheme was initiated and as regards illegal construction/development works being carried out in the land subdivision/housing scheme, you were requested to take necessary legal action as per provision of law. For identification of site, the staff concerned may be directed to consult the DDMP/ADMP concerned of MP Wing.

When contacted Director DEM PHS Asadullah Cheema said he would check and take action against the alleged illegal land subdivision as soon as possible.

Similarly, the MP wing wrote a letter (LDA/DMP-II/711 dated 12, 6, 2024) to the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) requesting him for imposition of ban on the issuance of fard-e-malkiat, registration of any documents and attestation of the mutation etc of illegal housing scheme.

As per LDA Act 1975 u/s 13(5), “A person, local body or government agency shall not within the area (Lahore Division) prepare a planning or development scheme except the concurrence of the authority”.

As per the record, the sponsor has launched the subject land subdivision without obtaining permission from the competent authority (location on google map is enclosed). He has performed development works and sale/purchase of plots illegally and without approval of design and specification of utility services from the departments concerned,” the letter said.

It further said that as per section 14(A) of the LDA Act 1975 “In case any person contravenes any of the provision of this section, the Authority may direct that till the time the contravention continues (a) transfer of any immovable property shall be prohibited (b) the collector to impose a ban on the issuance of fard-e-malkiat, registration of any document or attestation of mutation n favor of the said person.”

“To safeguard the interest of the general public, you are requested to impose ban on the issuance of fard-e-malkiat, registration of any documents and attestation of the mutation until formal approval of the scheme/land subdivision is granted by the LDA.

It is further requested that action taken in this regard may also be shared to this office for reference and record,” the letter concluded.

Director MP-II also wrote a letter (LDA/DMP-II/710 dated 12/6/24) to Director (PHS) Wasa, Chief Executive Lesco and General Manager SNGPL requesting disconnection of services in illegal housing scheme near IEP Town Sector A, Lahore. “To safeguard the interest of general public, you are requested to stop/discontinue municipal services i.e. water supply and sewerage, electricity and sui gas of the subject scheme/land subdivision until formal approval,” the letter said.

When contacted, the MPA sent a voice note that he was in Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj. The scribe asked him to send a voice note regarding the query but he didn’t reply.