Private housing societies devouring rights-of-way

ISLAMABAD: Even as the capital struggles with a rising population — by an association of which the number of cars that are plying on its roads — and providing adequate space for them, the authorities have been unable to stop private housing societies from quite literally devouring the ‘rights-of-way’ on streets adjoining principal roads.

Hence, they help narrow the roads and create further problems for the traffic in the capital.

The move violates the Islamabad Master Plan, the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Zoning Regulations 1992 apart from modalities and formalities of private housing societies in the federal capital.

“The city was divided into grid-iron patterns, developed into two kilometres by two kilometres sectors, segregated by grading of 600 feet principal roads. Under the provision of the master plan the sectors are required to build principal roads in four cardinal directions,” explained Khalid Hussain, a member of the Institute of Architects Pakistan (IAP) as he spoke with The Express Tribune.

He said that the grid pattern of sectors was served by a hierarchically structured road network comprising sections which are 1,200 feet, 600 feet, 300 feet wide roads which intersect at right angles. Moreover, collector and local roads were proposed to serve the community.

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Maintaining that wide right-of-way was a strong identifying feature of the capital, such a hierarchy and width had been set keeping in mind future traffic growth and high-speed traffic movements.

In this regard, the width of the right-of-way of the Islamabad Expressway was revised and increased from 1,200 feet to 1,800 feet.

Another member of the IAP, Ejaz Ahmed, said that the capital had been planned with high automobile per capita ratio traffic in mind. This is why there were wide streets proposed along with large, 50-100 yard wide green strips alongside each major road.

The other justification for wide highways was its use for future utility corridors such as water, high tension electricity lines and gas pipelines.

The Islamabad Master Plan and ICT-Zoning Regulations provide that private housing societies are required to acquire half of the right-of-way adjoining roads along principal roads. These were actually supposed to be transferred in favour of the capital civic authority, the Capital Development Authority (CDA).

However, some housing societies located in the foothills of the Margalla Hills Islamabad — Zone-II, Sector D-17 — have usurped the right-of-way. These societies can be accessed from the Grand Trunk Road (GT Road).

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Curiously, the CDA and other relevant authorities cleared housing societies in the area to complete construction, issuing them no-objection certificates (NOCs) even without acquiring the right of way.

But with the CDA apparently turning a blind eye to the violations, or willfully claiming ignorance of the matter, private societies in the capital have been devouring principal roads.

A similar case which found itself in the court saw a housing society lock horns with the city administration over usurping a section of the AB Principal Road.

Officials said that last year, the CDA Building Control Directorate-II had warned private housing societies in the capital of flouting regulations and by-laws of the civic authority.

The warning came after it was discovered that housing societies are also approving building plans on their own apart from stamping occupancy permits, all without the knowledge of senior CDA officials and by circumventing its authority.

A CDA official, who spoke to The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity, said that some housing societies had been given leverage which would set a precedent for other societies. This, they fear, will open a door for housing authorities to blatantly violate the master plan and all other regulations while citing this example.

“The society did not acquire the land for ROW and how CDA can give NoC or approved layout plan (LOP),” the official asked

The Express Tribune tried to contact CDA Member Planning but received no response.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2018.

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