Ashiana Housing Rawalpindi on land of Rakh Dhamial meant for the dead
RAWALPINDI (July 29, 2011) : A piece of land reserved for the dead on the outskirts of the city may see the rise of a complex for the living, if the powerful people behind Ashiana project approve of the idea.
Dawn has learnt that the City District Government Rawalpindi (CDGR) has proposed to the Punjab government to locate its Ashiana housing scheme on the 1,000 kanals reserved for a graveyard at Rakh Dhamial, some 20 kilometres from the city centre.
The second PPP government had allocated the land for a graveyard in 1996 under the big city project for Rawalpindi and also provided a bus to the defunct Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation (RMC) for transporting the dead there.
Three months back the city government was asked to find land in the city for launching the housing scheme. It was also directed to provide details of the katchi abadis where possession letters had not been provided to inhabitants.
But the administrations of the Rawal and Potohar municipal towns had informed the provincial government that they did not have land for the housing scheme.
Sources said the local PMLN leadership was pressuring the administration to provide land for starting the construction of housing scheme, with plans to complete it before the next general elections.
“We have told the provincial government to get 500 kanals at Rakh Dhamial for the housing scheme,” Saif Anwar Jappa, assistant commissioner, told Dawn.
He said the administration surveyed the city and found no land vacant for the housing project, adding that the land at Rakh Dhamial was the “only option left”.
Mr Jappa said the land had been vacant for last 16 years. “The city government will use it for the housing project.” He claimed that the provincial government would pay market price of the land to Rawal Town before launching the project. “The remaining 500 kanals would be available for the graveyard.” But the plan is already under fire from the political parties. Sultan Mehmood Qazi, city president of Pakistan People’s Party, lashed out at the Punjab government for launching projects to “earn money or get publicity”.
He termed it strange that the Punjab government was planning to use land reserved for graveyard for the housing scheme. “According to rules, the government could not change status of graveyard or buy the land allocated for a graveyard or a mosque.” Malik Azam, spokesman for Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) in Rawalpindi, also resented the plan, saying the space for burying the dead was already shrinking in the city.
He urged the provincial government to shelve the plan and select another space for constructing the housing scheme to get “sympathies of people before the next elections”.
In the 40 small and big graveyards of the city, there is no more space for burying the dead. The city’s main graveyards in Ratta Amral, Pirwadhai, Eidgah, Shan Diyan Talian, Kuri Road, Dhoke Khaba, Dhoke Illahi Bukhsh, Dhoke Kashmirian, Chah Sultan, Malikan Da Kabristan and others have been filled, forcing the people to dig out unattended graves for new burials..