New GHQ construction site displaces 7000 families | Pakistan Today

New GHQ construction site displaces 7000 families

  • Allocation of H-sector for residential purpose will be violation of CDA’s master plan

More than 7000 families will have to migrate from sectors E-10, D-11 to undeveloped H-16 to pave way for the construction of new General Headquarters of Pakistan Army.

Thousands of people have to leave their ancestral lands and migrate to sector H-16. H sectors had already been declared sectors for public institutions, colleges, schools. Allocation of H sector for residential purpose will be a violation of CDA’s master plan.

The federal government has approved the relocation of people from the proposed site of new GHQ as the army planned to start the construction work. Despite weeklong repeated attempts, the ISPR did not come up with a response till the filing of this report.

The CDA has recently approved a comprehensive plan to this effect that covers financial aspects of the move, handing over possession of 870 acres of land comprising of sectors E-10 and D-11 to the army for construction, and relocation of thousands of affected families currently residing there to sector H-16, documents available with Pakistan Today revealed.

The land was allotted to the army in 2005 at a nominal price of Rs 703 million, of which it has already paid Rs 527.8 million. The government has also approved to waive off Rs191 million the army was supposed to pay as “delayed charges” against the cost of land.

Documents suggest that according to estimates some 7000 plots (each measuring 166.6 square yards or six marlas) will be required to facilitate relocation of the affected families.

According to the plan, the army will carry out development work of sector H-16 through National Logistics Cell (NLC) or Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) – its own construction firms – and once development completes the affected families would be shifted there.

In the whole exercise – acquisition and development of land in sector H-16 and relocation – the Army has agreed to contribute a total of Rs6 billion which will be given in four instalments (scheduled to be completed till May 15, 2017), while rest of the expenditures would be borne by the CDA.

Out of Rs6 billion, Rs 4 billion will be utilised for acquisition of land and payment of compensation to local residents, while another Rs 2 billion is the cost of development.

“It was proposed that two sub-sectors of sector H-16 will be allocated for resettlement of the affected residents of GHQ land. These two sub-sectors will be sufficient to accommodate all the affectees having requirement of approximately 7000 plots. However, if the requirement becomes more than two sub-sectors the CDA will allocate additional land in the same sector,” reads the summary approved by the authority.

Land for construction of new GHQ building was allotted to Army in 2005, but possession of land was never given to the Army and local residents of the area continue to live there. “Over the period of time the number of build-up properties at GHQ land swelled significantly due to new construction/encroachments,” documents suggest.

It adds that to stop further constructions it has been approved to strictly enforce section 144 at the site while joint teams of Army and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration would patrol the area to stop the practice besides establishment of Army/administration security pickets.

The new site of the GHQ is located in the foothills of Margallas. In 1972 it was decided to shift GHQ from Rawalpindi to Islamabad, however, for a variety of reasons the plan could not be materialised so far.

When contacted Mayor cum Chairman CDA, Sheikh Ansar Aziz, he refused to comment on the issue saying he does not have knowledge of the issue as it was done before his assumption of the charge as chairman CDA.

However, the CDA board decision over the matter, available with Pakistan Today, says “The Board has approved the summary in principle. It has been decided that matter may be preceded further in accordance with law and in such a manner that interests of CDA are protected and maximum benefit for the CDA as well as residents of Islamabad is derived out of this arrangement.”

Farid Sabri

The writer is a member of Pakistan Today's Islamabad bureau. He can be contacted at his email [email protected], and Twitter: @FaridSabri786