Speedy action against illegal occupants to be taken soon

ISLAMABAD: The sub-committee of the Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday directed the Ministry of Housing and Works tao speed up the work on the evacuation of illegal occupants from the government house in the capital.The committee also directed to increase the rent of state-owned shops, and petrol pumps in Karachi. The state-owned properties are usually misused by the illegal occupants in the capital while in Karachi, the situation is worse. There are around 215 shops and petrol pumps in Karachi, and only 78 shopkeepers are paying nominal rents, while the petrol pumps are run by a sports complex. The audit official informed the committee that the original allottees had died and now their other family members are using the same shops.Ministry of Housing and Works Secretary Muhammad Younus Dagha said that in Karachi, the government is confronting such problem in different parts of the city. Some government officials are retired but they are not willing to evacuate the official residencies. Some retried government officials are living in state-owned houses with a plea that the government would give it to them on ownership bases. The Senate Standing Committee on housing and works has formed a sub-committee to address this issue.Member of the committee, Arif Alvi was of the view that if the matter was left with the Senate Standing Committee, the problem may delay for another eight to ten years. He advised the Ministry of Housing and Works to consult the courts in this matter. The committee recommended that those shopkeepers who are paying the rent, the rent should be increased and those who are not paying the rent, they should be evacuated through the order of the courts. "Don't extend the lease order with all and go through open bidding which would create more revenue for the government," Alvi said. The committee also directed the secretary to provide details of all the state-owned petrol pumps to the sub-committee of the PAC.The committee also informed that there are about 300 acres of land, which is used for state-owned houses and about 3,000 illegal occupants are living there. The audit officials said that the total value of these properties is about Rs 100 billion. The NA Standing Committee on Housing and Works is also working on it. The secretary informed the committee that the court had already given its decision in favour of the ministry to eject the illegal occupants. The committee decided to wait for the recommendation of the NA Sub-Committee to finalise its recommendation.The Ministry of Housing and Works secretary said that there are 17,000 government houses/flats in the capital and majority of them are occupied by non-entitled persons and the government is trying to regularise them gradually. However, the convenor of the committee Sardar Ashiq Hussain directed the Ministry of Housing and Works to speed up the evacuation/regularisation of the government accommodation facility in the capital city. The secretary said that a summary had already been moved to the PM and seeks policy approval from him. According to the policy, after retirement, a government official may maintain a house for six months after which market rent would be charged instead of rental ceiling, which is very low.

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