Lahore Development Authority (LDA) has conducted an operation against eight illegal housing societies in the provincial capital and demolished the structures there. Presently, more than 250 housing schemes in Lahore are operating illegally.
According to information available to Profit, a grand operation was conducted against A&M Homes, Palm Villas, Ehsaas Villas, Maraka Marketing and Punjab Estate, while action was taken against Mohalinwal Nagar, Bismillah Associates and an illegal land subdivision near Greenview.
According to further details, during the operation, offices, roads, boundary walls and other structures of the said illegal housing schemes were also demolished.
Such housing societies are unregulated and flawed. The land allotted to building houses is not enough.The layout plans are inappropriate and there is often no space for constructing mosques and parks. Their status as societies therefore remains disputable.
Sources also claimed that the said societies will rebuild their boundary walls and offices in a few days and start cheating the people again.
“This is not a new thing, but this is the style of housing societies. After a few days, you will see these illegal societies re-activating in the market and their offices will be established again. Actually demolishing their offices and conducting grand operations against them is not the real solution. The LDA officers should arrest the owners/master-minds of these illegal housing societies and keep the local police in the loop so that these societies cannot do business again,” they added.
However, it’s not that simple. The authorities are also complicit in this crisis. Our sources report that they have under-the-table deals with developers and actually enable them to commit fraud.
Why is the LDA so ineffective to begin with? Despite having strict rules and regulations, there are issues with the field staff. Let’s look at how it plays on the field. If one wants to build a housing society in Lahore, they can’t do it without LDA’s approval. Only if LDA approves, they can start advertising, marketing and gathering investors.
However, LDA’s field staff doesn’t report on time. They take bribes from developers, which gives them enough room to fraud investors. Once the developers have accumulated the investors’ money, they tend to abandon the project and move overseas.
The sources in LDA informed Profit that all the above-mentioned illegal housing societies were engaged in defrauding the public for more than two years. The LDA doesn’t take timely action against these societies, which gives them a good margin to extract money from investors.
“Principally and legally, it should have been that the operation against these societies should have been started only when these illegal projects were started but due to the connivance of the LDA staff, this operation took so long to start,” they said.
Let’s imagine another scenario where the developers actually fulfill their SOPs. They have the land and master plans that meet LDA’s criteria. There’s no need to bribe off LDA officials. However, the LDA field staff would then deliberately be tardy with the process and not officially recognise the society, as they expect bribery. This creates a vicious cycle wherein the LDA agents are so accustomed to receiving bribes that it’s unfathomable to operate outside of it. Though these cases are relatively smaller in number, they still speak to how deeply systematic corruption is within housing societies. Perhaps the LDA needs to have a stronger check on its field agents.