ISLAMABAD: The desire to live an ideal life in farm houses located in the capital city’s Orchard Scheme is fading away fast for investors due to the presence of illegal cattle dens and undocumented settlers in the area, in addition to non-provision of basic amenities.
According to details, the issues faced by residents of Jaba Teli, a village situated right in the middle of the scheme acquired by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) in 1968, were left unresolved due to which the civic authority could not attain possession of over 80 farm houses in its proposed plan.
The existence of these issues encouraged a few opportunists from among the villagers and the CDA to illegally sell the land to cattle farmers expelled from Rawalpindi in 2009 in an effort to purge the cantonment area from livestock, said former Sohan Union Council chairman Sarfraz Hussain.
The remaining land under the possession of villagers was illegally sold out to some internally displaced families from Waziristan agencies, who left their native towns after the military started operations in their areas against militants, he added.
A farmhouse owner, named Shakoor, said that the seriousness of this issue had been discussed and conveyed in writing to the authorities concerned, but farmhouse owners have been left to twist and turn in the wind since 1994.
He said that our constant reminders of ensuring availability of facilities and security concerns on unverified dwellers have fallen on deaf ears, adding that he was forced to sell his farmhouse since the prevailing conditions in the area were worse than he had imagined.
Another farmhouse owner, named Jaral Haider, said that cattle dung was being thrown alongside the main road and around the farms, thus creating serious health hazards as there was no official mechanism to ensure that the areas were cleaned on a daily basis.
Another farmhouse owner, named Hassan, said that, “Bumpy roads, unpaved streets, non-provision of drinking water, damaged street lights, absence of sewage system and stinky smell of cattle waste were the only facilities provided to owners of farmhouses here in the last 20 years.”
On the other hand, CDA Enforcement Directorate Deputy Director Muhammad Ramzan, while opting for the easy way out on the issue, said that his department only provided reinforcement assistance for the removal of encroachments and illegal constructions only.
Passing the buck to the CDA’s Land and Rehabilitation Wing, he said, the evacuation of illegal lands was the aforementioned department’s responsibility under new and revised rules and regulations.
Regarding illegal constructions in the area, Ramzan admitted that some black sheep involved with the project were minting money by misleading people and soiling the name of the authority in the process. Ramzan also said that the CDA Enforcement Directorate was not capable of handling the situation effectively due to insufficient and untrained force.
An official of the CDA Planning Department, said that they have received many complaints from farmhouse owners regarding non-provision of basic amenities of life, and their woes had already been forwarded to the department concerned.
Farmhouse owners and locals, currently embroiled over land ownership claims with the CDA, expressed the hope that the Islamabad mayor and Capital Administration and Development Division minister would intervene to ensure timely resolution of their issues which have been pending for almost two decades now.