Bahria Town’s Garden City to DHA’s Serene City

Bahria Town is currently busy resolving issues related to its projects in Lahore and Islamabad. Protests have been held by those affected by Bahria Town Sector F in Lahore. We are yet to find out how over 5,000 of those affected by Bahria Town’s Garden City (Zone V – IX) in Islamabad, which has now technically become DHA Serene City, will react if their demands are not fulfilled. To give you a better understanding of the Garden-City issue, here is quick rundown of what actually happened there.

Background

Bahria Town launched Garden City back in 2013 on a two-year payment plan. The prices of the plots were high since Bahria claimed that the project has been fully developed and the property owners can start construction of their homes in Garden City right away. In 2015, without any proper announcement, Bahria Town handed over Garden City to DHA as a compensation to DHA Valley, for which it received several billions from the DHA. By then, Bahria Town had also received full payments for these plots in Garden City.

Concerns of property owners

Initially, the property owners were told that with DHA taking over Garden City, property rates here will spike. Shortly after DHA erected “Serene City” board by removing Garden City’s board, property transfer office here was also shut down for an indefinite period. The latest update in this regard is that property owners, who have reached an approximate number of 5,000, have been asked by Bahria Town to submit PKR 3,500,000 in terms of development charges.

Why impose development charges?

The launching rate of Garden City plots were high at PKR 6,000,000 and PKR 4,000,000 for 1-kanal and 10-marla residential plots, respectively. Bahria claims that this is because these were developed plots. In other words, the development charges were included in the initial price. Now when DHA took over, no formal announcement was made by any of the two developers and Bahria Town imposed development charges at an extremely high rate of PKR 3,500,000 and PKR 2,500,000 for 1-kanal and  10-marla plots, respectively. Why they have asked for the development charges again is the question that bothers the property owners too.

Compensation for the bounced check?

As a compensation to DHA Valley – a project that faced delayed development work as well as litigation – Bahria Town offered DHA a cheque of PKR 62 billion, which bounced. The amount was to be paid anyway. It appears that by imposing and collecting development charges on Garden City’s property, Bahria Town is looking to generate that income for the DHA.

The reaction

Those affected aren’t willing to pay development charges primarily because they purchased developed plots, with the extra charges included in the introductory rates. They rightly think it is unfair. To counter this, the affectees formed a core committee to sort their issues out with Bahria Town’s management.

The outcome of the persistent demands of the property owners presented to the management is that the developer has apparently agreed to accept their terms. According to the representatives of the core committee, Bahria Town has asked them to wait until August 16, as they intend to share some good news by then. In addition to that, Bahria Town’s management has also agreed to waive off development charges.

What to expect now?

 DHA has renamed all blocks and streets of Garden City, and now new boards have been erected reading DHA-assigned names for these sectors. If you pass through GT Road opposite the entrance of DHA Phase II, you will see boards for Serene City instead of Garden City. From this development, we can safely assume that DHA and Bahria Town are now in advanced stages to finalise their agreement for this project; an announcement is predicted before August 16.

If Bahria Town does not collect development charges from property owners, what will it actually offer to DHA? A project that was sold out many years ago and now belongs to individual owners? Meanwhile 5,000 people wonder if they will get possession of their property in the near future and whether their investment will pay them off as per their expectations.

 

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