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CDA set to get acquired land from adverse possession

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) seems serious in chalking out a strategy to get thousands of acres of acquired land released from the adverse possession and go about developing the city with an improved pace.

In wake of the directions issued by Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, recently, asking the CDA to take over physical possession of the land that the authority had acquired back in 1960s for developing the federal capital and speed up the development of the city, the chairman called up a high-level meeting in his office on Monday to devise a strategy as to how to dislodge the encroachers and squatters from the acquired pieces of land.

The CDA acquired 75,000 acres of land in early 1960s to develop the new federal capital after the Pakistan governments decided to shift the capital from Karachi to the present location. Out of 75,000 acres of acquired land by the CDA, almost 20,000 acres is still under adverse possession.

Recently Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, while taking decision on a suo moto notice of an application of violation of human rights by the Tehreek-e-Insaaf leader, Imran Khan, against illegal occupation of CDA’s land by a local Senator, directed the authority to take over possession of the acquired land from the illegal occupants.

CDA Chairman Imtiaz Inayat Elahi called a CDA Board meeting on Monday afternoon, attended by Member (Administration) Shaukat Ali Mohmand, Member (Engineering) Abdul Jabbar Malano, Member (Estate Management) S.M. Farooqi, Member (Planning & Design) Engr. Tahir Shamshad and Member/FA Saeedur Rehman to evolve a strategy for implementing the directions passed by the Chief Justice.

Later, the chairman in a separate meeting in his office with Member (Planning & Design) Engr. Tahir Shamshad, Director-General (Planning) Ghulam Sarwar Sandhu, CDA Deputy Commissioner Saqib and Director (Enforcement) Mohammad Azam Joya.

The CDA chairman while talking to ‘The News’ said that it was decided to widely publicise the CDA’s action to take over physical possession of the already acquired land, urging the illegal occupants, encroachers and squatters to extend cooperation and avoid any confrontation leading to some ugly situation as had happened in the past whenever such an attempt was made by the CDA.

“Encouraged by the directions passed by the Chief Justice, we believe we will not be facing any legal obstacles as had been the practice in the past where these illegal occupants of the land always managed to get ‘stay orders’ from lower courts, preventing the CDA to accomplish its task,” he said.

He also said that after widely publicising the intentions of the CDA, the authority will launch the operation in collaboration with the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration and the Islamabad Police. “If we confronted any problems, we intend to approach the Islamabad High Court for redressing of our problem. We have also decided to constitute a monitoring committee which will closely watch the whole operation and will liaison with the concerned quarters if any thing was found lacking,” e added.

CDA Member (Administration) Shaukat Ali Mohmand while talking to ‘The News’ said that the authority will go for taking over the possession of the parts of the acquired land which are still unoccupied or where population is still sparse. Secondly, he added, we also have to take suitable steps to maintain our possession over these areas after taking it over.

“During a similar operation carried out by the CDA in Sector I-11, we confronted difficult situation while we were re-claiming the acquired land from the possession of Afghan refugees who were returning to their homeland. After reclaiming the area we installed our security pickets in the area. And one night around five persons, armed with sophisticated weapons came to the guards stationed at those security and threatened them to leave the area. The situation was obviously beyond the control of the CDA and as a result possession of that area once again slipped out of the grip of the authority,” Shaukat Mohmand said.

He pointed out that back at that time the CDA was under the Ministry of Interior and as such both the ICT administration as well as the Islamabad Police, was under the same administrative umbrella. “Still we found it difficult to deal with these illegal occupants, the ‘qabza mafia’, the encroachers and the squatters to get the acquired land released from their possession. This time we do have the back of the Supreme Court orders but it would not be possible for the CDA alone to accomplish this gigantic task,” Shaukat Mohmand pointed out.

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