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KARACHI, Nov 3: The low-cost housing scheme of Taiser Town is no more for people of low-income group, as the price range of 240 and 400 square yards residential plots in the third phase is much above the affordability level of deserving people, for whom they are meant. The Malir Development Authority launched the third phase of Taiser Town Housing Scheme and invited applications for 240 and 400 square yard residential plots. The total price of a 240-sq-yd plot is Rs0. 528 million and that of a 400-sq-yd plot Rs1. 2 million, although the amount has to be paid over a three-year period. Surprisingly, the MDA, instead of allotting these plots through open auction, has asked interested buyers through an advertisement to apply on the prescribed form and deposit with it a pay-order of Rs31,000 for a 240-sq-yd plot and Rs51,000 for a 400-sq-yd plot. It has notified the authorised branches of a private bank for the purpose and fixed Nov 20 as the last date for submission of the form for balloting.
The price of the form, whose photocopy is also acceptable, is Rs1,000 which is non-refundable. Only residents of Sindh are eligible to apply and those who had won a plot in the balloting for the 80 or 120 sq-yd categories are also not eligible to apply for the 240 or 400 sq-yd categories. Many people, whom this scribe spoke to, criticised the MDA for fixing such an exorbitant price and observed that only affluent people who did not deserve a piece of land in a low-cost housing scheme would be able to buy one or more plots in the third phase. The prices of 80 and 120 sq-yd plots were Rs40,000 and Rs120,000 respectively, and people questioned that why the price of 400 and 240 sq-yd plots had been fixed on a higher side. They felt that this clearly shows that the third phase of this low-cost housing scheme seemed not at all meant for the people of low-income group. Farhat Abbas, who is a dealer of a mobile phone company and could not get a plot in the earlier draws for smaller plots in the scheme, says he was willing to apply for a plot in the third phase, but he cannot afford the prices.
I cannot afford to get an amount of Rs50,000 blocked for many months. Another citizen, Mohammad Shahid said that he would apply in the third phase of the scheme at all costs. 120 sq-yd plots on four different national identity cards of his family members but remained unsuccessful in the draw. People have also been criticising strongly the price of the application form, saying that by charging Rs1,000 for each form, the MDA is fleecing common man. What is the difference between this public sector scheme and those offered by private sector?
However, MDA sources defend the prices fixed for the 240 and 400 sq-yd plots and describe the same as much discounted rates. The government is still offering the prime land at much discounted rates. A 400-sq-yd plot at a price of Rs1. He agreed that the prices are higher than those fixed for smaller plots but clarified that the third phase was not meant for low-income group. Rather, he added, it was for the middle class people who could afford the prices easily.
Surprisingly, MDA chief Ameerzada Kohati, when contacted, was unable to give the exact number of plots being offered to general public in the third phase. He, however, stated that 34,762 plots measuring 80 sq-yd each in the first phase and19,587 plots measuring 120 sq-yd each in the second phase had been allotted by the MDA. Babar Mirza Chughtai says that the prices offered by the government for plots in the third phase are about Rs1,000 per square yard less than the market rates. However, he also believed that the prices were beyond the affordability limit of the people from the low-income group. Some 35,000 people die annually of tuberculosis in Pakistan.
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