Karachi: The Defence Housing Authority (DHA) has imposed “refurbishment charges” for property and house owners of Defence for developing storm water drainage infrastructure in the area.
For several concerned quarters the sudden introduction of refurbishment charges is equivalent of the City District Government Karachi’s (CDGK) recent move to impose infrastructure tax causing resentment among the citizens.
The DHA has said the refurbishment charges have been imposed on one time basis only with a heavy heart as after undertaking unprecedented development work related to rainwater drainage networks in the area the DHA has virtually become bankrupt leaving it with no other option.
A notice issued by secretary DHA says “Refurbishment charges have been laid on all plots constructed/open of Phase-I to Phase-VII with immediate effect”.
Sources privy to the issue said that the DHA had started recovering refurbishment charges at the rate of Rs150 per square yard for residential plots and Rs750 per square yard for commercial plots.
They said that the DHA had so far started recovering the fee in question from the plot and house owners who visited its offices related to finalisation of their property deals. The DHA finance department was offering such people facility of two-year instalment plan for payment of the charges.
While for rest of the DHA house owners the authority has yet to evolve any mechanism for the speedy recovery of the charges as any such move would surely cause concerns among the Defence residents.
“There is no justification for imposing such charges that too in an abrupt manner on open plots when the DHA is already charging non-utilisation fee from their owners,” said Raja Mazhar who is president of the United Defence Clifton Estate Agents’ Association. He added the non-utilisation fee has also been recently increased by the DHA.
“April 16 this year was the first date when the DHA started charging the refurbishment charges and its sudden imposition caused serious problems in the ongoing deals of transfer of property and also creating rifts between the prospective buyers and sellers of property,” he said.
Mazhar said that the DHA should have issued proper notifications concerning imposition of the charges for advance information of the property owners, its dealers, and prospective buyers. Such prior notifications would have spared people engaged in property dealing from a lot of hassle especially related to financial transactions.
It was least what should have been done by the DHA that is also supposed to consult property owners and residents of the area before introducing the charges so to solicit their opinion on the issue, he said.
Honorary General Secretary of Association of Defence Residents Asad Kizilbash, rning that the authority had imposed such charges without taking the residents or their representatives into confidence.
“It has come as a complete shock to me and we will surely discuss the issue in the next meeting of our association,” he said.
“The DHA has developed the rainwater drainage system in the area with the thinking that the previous administrations neglected to build the system,” he said.
“It is my understanding that the DHA is a developer and after developing the area the authority hands it over to the Clifton Cantonment Board. The DHA Phase-I to VII is already a developed area and if there is not a drainage system it is merely due to negligence of the previous administrations of the authority,” he said.
“I don’t think the DHA should be charging the residents for what they were supposed to done when they were developing the area rather than waiting for a disaster to happen,” said Kizilbash.
The DHA spokesman Lt Col (retd) Rafat Naqvi said that after the rain emergency situation of 2007 the authority had built the drainage networks on a war footing basis with the cost of Rs2.7 billion.
It is basically the task of cantonment board to develop municipal facilities like drainage systems but we did it considering concerns and needs of our residents, he said. But completion of this work created a lot of financial troubles for us and at one point there were considerations by the authority for such unpopular like downsizing, he added.
The DHA is such an organization, which receives no financial grant or assistance from federal and provincial governments even in emergency situation so it has to generate funds from its own resources, said the DHA spokesman.
He said that after completion of the drainage system and related development work for the area the DHA had become virtually bankrupt so it had no option other than levying these charges.
It is like levying development or additional development charges on plot owners in the DHA.
He said that the Executive Board of the DHA considered and gave approval to the proposal of refurbishment charges after weighing its legal and financial implications.
“We did with a heavy heart with the consideration that people would not be disturbed with this move and would support the DHA in its move to carry out unprecedented development work in the area,” Col Naqvi said.
Source: The News