The Devious Plot to Legalise Irregular Housing Schemes in Lahore

by M. Wasim

Last week on April 9, 2021, the Government of Punjab promulgated “The Punjab Commission for Regularization of Irregular Housing Schemes Ordinance-2021”, which poses grave concerns. As it allows consumption of the agriculture land for commercial purposes and housing societies on green spaces in Lahore and adjacent areas.

Ultimately the Ordinance is set to give legitimacy to powerful land mafia, which has purchased acres of land in the green areas and has developed or is in the process of developing housing schemes in violation of the land use rules and the cities’ Master plan.

Patronage to Illegal Housing Societies  

Furthermore, another ordinance was promulgated on April 12 to amend the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) Act, 1975 under which Sheikhupura, Kasur and Nankana Sahib are no longer part of LDA jurisdiction. By this the government has clipped building control powers of the Lahore Development Authority and limiting it to the Lahore city alone, while allowing regularization at mere 2% penalty of any illegal housing scheme on the green areas in the outskirts of Lahore — which once couldn’t be legalised under the existing LDA and environmental laws, land use regulations.

As a result there are as many as 2,000 illegal housing schemes have grown at present in Punjab. The Lahore division alone has over 600 illegal housing schemes in which 230 developed or being established on green areas of Lahore, Kasur, Nankana Sahib and Sheikhupura districts in violation of the master plan, laws, rules and regulations.

According to the LDA Vice Chairman S.M. Imran most of the illegal housing schemes fell in the green areas where development of such projects was not allowed under the master plan and the housing schemes regulations, environment and other rules concerned.

Political Influence in Real Estate

It was reportedly done on demand of provincial ministers, assembly members and some powerful real estate developers. As a matter of fact the present regime has bestowed the status of an asset class on real estate. It patronages a culture of investing in land to turn it into an asset class. This culture works by making real estate investment a value and may be called a specter of the real estate haunting our homeland.

The formation of Punjab Regularization of Irregular Housing Schemes Ordinance-2021 seems to be a big game allegedly on the part of the government as first an ordinance to form a commission to regularise irregular housing schemes, including all those falling in green areas, was promulgated and then amendment in the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) Act, 1975, clipping building control of the LDA and limiting it to the Lahore city alone.

An Awful Culture

To a certain extent it has become a common practice in both Lahore and Karachi that when land mafia violate laws and develop irregular schemes or do another unlawful act, the building control or development authorities remain silent. And when they take action only after the schemes or building get populated, it prompts the allottees’ and public sentiments emerge aggressively, forcing the government to legalise the illegal acts or housing schemes.

These days real estate investors are raiding small farmers, determined to bring all land lying between various cities under their private control and Government is on their side. Because in addition to legalising the illegal schemes, the government has also changed land use rules and started promoting construction of high rises, housing schemes’ rules to facilitate the influential and rich people earn more on the pretext of superficial housing program and so called Construction Package.


Editorial, Infocus

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1 comment

Arkaa January 25, 2022 - 8:53 am

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