ISLAMABAD: The once well-planned and developed federal capital now continues to grow haphazardly. The population continues to swell, as housing units become rarer and more precious. Naturally, the most vulnerable segment of society is the most badly affected.
Another major factor behind the housing predicament is the failure of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the housing ministry to open new sectors and evolve long term plans to cope with the situation. The lack of effective preparation to create housing at the same rate as the influx of people is adding to the problem.
Rent for an average portion of a house ranges from Rs20,000 to Rs60,000, which varies from sector to sector. A two-bed portion in G-6, G-9, G-7, G-10,G-11,G-9 or I-10 ranges between Rs20,000 and Rs25000, whereas the rent for a flat in these sectors lies between Rs15,000 and Rs20,000, which is beyond the reach of most young salaried people.
“The accommodation issue got aggravated soon after the 2005 earthquake and worsened after the law and order crisis in K-P. The final blow came after last year’s floods,” said Shakeel Gulban, a property dealer in Melody Market. He elaborated that a significant number of people from Hazara division and Kashmir had shifted to Islamabad during this time.
To make matters worse, a large number of national and international NGOs established their offices in the capital. They started paying exorbitant rents for these rented houses cum offices. “The trend has continued for the last few years, and the rents have been pushed out of the reach of the common man in this time,” Gulban added.
Furthermore, the situation is no better for government employees. They are also suffering due to insufficient housing units in the capital and thousands of them have been waiting to get official accommodation for years.
Saadat Khan, a government employee, who is working in a ministry as a section officer, gets Rs26,000 per month as salary and pays Rs15,000 as house rent. “The situation would have been better if the CDA had opened new sectors and constructed buildings instead of awarding huge plots to the elite,” Khan added.
However, for the civic agency, the issue is still not as worrisome. Sarwar Sindhu, Director General, CDA Urban Planning said that keeping in view the increasing demand for housing, the authority has started opening new development sectors including E-13, C-13 and A-13.
Here, the acquisition will be initiated on a land-sharing basis, after which development work will begin. Soon after the construction of housing units, people will have places to call their own. However, all this is not expected to happen overnight.
To facilitate the poor, he said, CDA has allotted many plots in slum areas and established model villages. Sindhu, however, was not ready to accept the fault of the authorities, saying that the increasing demand for housing is subject to the affordability of the people and not the supply factor.