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ISLAMABAD: Ministry of Housing and Works (MoH&W) has sought permission to lift ban on construction of residential accommodation/ hostels for federal government employees, sources close to Secretary Housing and Works told Business Recorder.

Shortage of accommodation for Federal Government employees has become alarming due to ban imposed by the Federal Cabinet on construction of new accommodations on January 14, 1995. Since then no new project for construction of official residences for the Federal Government employees has been launched.

The ban on new construction of official residences was imposed on the presumption that the residential facility for the Federal Government Servants will be monetized. However, monetization of residential facility was not introduced while the number of the Federal Government servants increased manifold during the last 27 years, thereby inflicting great pressure on the existing limited housing stock. There are about 17496 residential units available which stand allotted while almost an equal number of employees are registered on the General Waiting Lists (GWLs).

The sources said officers/ officials posted from the provinces to the federal capital remain under severe mental distress due to the shortage of accommodation. They are usually unable to arrange private accommodation due to considerable difference in the rate of market rent and the House Rent Allowance/ Rental Ceiling being paid to them by the government. There is an urgent need to fill the supply and demand gap of residential accommodation for the federal government employees. Federal government owns land in Sectors G-6, G-7, F-6, etc., whereon just single/ two storied quarters stand constructed in 1960 and 70s. These buildings are in extremely dilapidated condition, already exhausted their useful life and are required to be demolished in phases.

At present all the government accommodations are allotted to the employees of the federal government according to a General Waiting List. GWL is a list showing seniority of the government employees for the allotment of an accommodation prepared on the basis of date of application given by any individual for the allotment of government residence against an authorized category.

GWL consists of more than 30,000 government employees who are waiting for government accommodations but the number of houses becoming vacant is very limited.

According to sources, presently, there is also general shortfall of houses in the Federal Capital and the Ministry of Housing and Works is making concerted efforts and taking various measures to bridge the gap. The following initiatives are under consideration of Housing Ministry: (i) to formulate an Urban Regeneration Policy; under this policy the Ministry would provide houses to homeless and provide shelter to families including residents of Katchi Abadis and Civil Servants by constructing Housing towers on state land in different localities;(ii) draft on the Right to Shelter Act, 2022 is under process. In this regard, inter-ministerial consultation is under process and soon a concrete proposal will be submitted to Federal Cabinet and parliament; and (iii) establishment of the Urban Regeneration, Human Settlement and Social Housing Board is also under consideration.

The concept of re-generation and renewal has never been practiced in Pakistan as a policy issue. Ministry of Housing and Works has prepared a plan to renew old government houses/ flats in sectors G-6, G-7 and F-6 focusing on a strategy which will include smart land use planning, vertical housing/ mixed development with commercialization of some portion of renewed blocks to be offered to semi-government organisations/ corporations, State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) enabling the government to meet the renewal cost of construction. The concept of urban re-generation will be introduced by constructing hosing towers and relaxation for commercialization up to 8-10 % of the project. Ministry of Housing and Works will not demand funds from the government and all renewal expenses will be met through commercialization and units to be commercialized/ sold will be restricted to the extent of cost incurred on redevelopment.

Ministry of Housing and Works has submitted following proposals before Secretaries Committee: (i) renewal of existing government residential houses/ flats;(ii) lifting ban on new construction of residential accommodation/hostels for the federal government employees; and (iii) Urban Regeneration, Human Settlement and Social Housing Board under the Ministry of Housing and Works may be established by placing “the Right to Shelter Act, 2022” before Parliament.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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