UNFULFILLED PROMISES: INCOMPLETE HOUSING SCHEMES
The PPP had announced a project under which the poor would be provided with affordable homes and plots in all cities of Sindh, including Karachi. This project, to be commenced under the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Housing Cell, was to cater to around 15,000 underprivileged families. The former chief minister, Qaim Ali Shah, had approved the allocation of 350 acres of land in different parts of Karachi for this project.[TOP]
Land, however, was never transferred to the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Housing Cell.
The land utilisation department under the new administration of the housing cell issued challans worth 170 million rupees to transfer ownership of the land to the housing cell in June 2016. The release of the payment was delayed and so was the transfer of the land.
Because of the delays, the land near Surjani Town has already been illegally occupied and there are apprehensions that the rest of the land will also be encroached upon.
In Hyderabad, a project was planned to provide 300 families with plots at low rates on a total of 19 acres of land. Over 4.6 million rupees were to be provided to the land utilisation department so that it could obtain ownership of the land; this is yet to happen. Twelve acres of land have been allocated for 200 families in Mirpurkhas while five acres of land has been allocated for 120 families in Nawabshah.
No work has commenced on either of these projects. Instead, the projects suffered from reports of financial irregularities, a lack of administration, and a serious questioning of the quality of construction by the housing cell. All of this resulted in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) arresting the former chairperson and technical director of the cell, Manzar Abbas, along with several other employees in 2015.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif announced Apna Ghar Housing Scheme in 2013. The project has yielded nothing so far except for files. The manifesto of the PML-N promised to provide at least 1,000 clusters of 500 houses each. The provinces were to provide the land free of charge and the construction costs would be taken up by the federal government. This project was to be completed within the span of five years. Of the 350 million rupees asked for by the housing ministry, the government allocated only 10 million rupees. The project also does not have a permanent chief executive or related staff to run the programme and the project continued to be on the least priority agenda for the government throughout its term.
Imran Khan of the Pakistan Tehreek-iInsaf (PTI) has announced that in the next live years his government will provide live million new housing units. However, his government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was the fourth provincial government to have failed to complete the Regi Model Town launched 26 years ago.
Regi Model Town has 26,000 plots and is the oldest and largest housing project in the province. Out of five zones, Zone 3 and 4 of Regi Model Town have 10,000 housing units in them, which the PTI government failed to develop. The Peshawar Development Authority (PDA) has also been accused of spending the funds for Regi Model Town on other projects. Only 600 houses have been built and a few dozen are under construction, but there are no facilities available to residents except for electricity and water. The residents were promised gas connections three years ago which are also yet to be provided.