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Bahria Town Karachi: Land Crisis or The Scam?

The settlement of Bahria Town’s disputed land in the Supreme Court may have relieved the majority of its members, but it ended up forming a whole new class of affectees. There are literally thousands of people who are still unsure if they own anything more than a piece of paper after this much ado. People were very excited after the favorable decision from the SC, however, the situation has gone even worse for the affectees as Bahria Town has disowned 8000 acres of land before the Supreme Court despite having sold those plots to the general public.

It is a pity that giants like Bahria Town can always get away with their commitments to deliver, while the general public loses their hard earned money. We have seen several examples of such malpractices in Bahria Town Rawalpindi, Bahria Town Lahore, and Bahria Enclave Islamabad, which suggest a pattern how this giant firm “Bahria Town” actually rips off the innocent home buyers by overselling their projects.

It is quite evident after the release of official land demarcation map that Bahria Town no longer claims ownership of about 8000 acres of land which includes certain precincts of Bahria Paradise and Sports City, as well as newly balloted precincts i.e P23A, P29, 32,33(ABCD) and Valley Block (ABCD). People have paid hundreds of billions to Bahria Town over the past couple of years hoping to get their plots, but all they have are worthless pieces of paper selling at minus rates.

Bahria Town Karachi claims to have around 150000 members, i.e. the number of properties sold to the general public, and it has lost about 30% of the planned area after the SC decision. If we simply take a rough estimate of the number of affectees, the number may reach somewhere around a mind-boggling 45000 members. Despite several misleading claims by Bahria Town of having no land issues and forcing members to pay off their outstanding installments, social media and independent bloggers have exposed the actual gravity of matters.

The fate of new precincts, i.e. P23a, P29, P32, P33, and Valley Block (A,B,C,D) is still uncertain, as Bahria Town had allotted numbers to all the leftover unballoted plots and homes in new precincts in 2018, but these precincts do not exist in the land demarcation map. Bahria Town has to come out with a clear statement as to what is going to happen to these precincts. If the planned land is no longer part of Bahria Town Karachi, what is the replacement option?

Unlike Sports City and Paradise, allottees of new precincts have paid off their due installments long ago, and all they need is the possession of their plots so that they can build their houses. It is very unfortunate that thousands of people have been forced into such a situation that their dream of own house is broken, and their files are selling at a big loss.

If Bahria Town Karachi had explained the actual situation to the affected members and shared a better replacement option, the market situation would have been much better. But instead, Bahria Town has once again resorted to its old practice of maneuvering the situation to its own benefit.

Instead of offering an alternative, It has announced a merger policy for Bahria Sports City and Bahria Paradise. According to this policy, you can merge the paid amount of one file into another, i.e. one file is canceled and its paid amount is added to another file. By this method, many files will be canceled, thus reducing the responsibility on Bahria Town.

Bahria Town had successfully managed such malpractices in the past, especially in Bahria Enclave 2, Bahria Green Valley Lahore, DHA Valley, and recently Awami Villas 3 in Bahria Town Phase 8; but the scale of damage to the general public is too high this time to be managed easily. Ironically, electronic and print media do not even talk about this grave issue, neither does any government authority jumps in to ensure that the general public is not fooled again by “The Tycoon”.

Despite serious concerns raised by the investors and commoners in real estate markets of Pakistan, Bahria Town tends to show utter nonchalance. There is no official word out as to how they are going to satisfy the affectees. If people do not join together and raise their voice against this fraud, Bahria Town will continue with its cheap tactics to manage the situation by either buying back files at minus rates, offering merger policies or offering a 100% refund.

Bahria Town has badly damaged its own reputation after this whole episode of land settlement. Had it not tried to sweep the whole issue under the carpet without realizing the concerns of the general public, people would still be trusting on it. Many people still do not know if their plot falls in the disputed area or safe zone, and this uncertainty has caused new buyers to stay away from Bahria Town. People are trying to get rid of their plots desperately, but hardly anything is selling at a good price except those falling in old developed precincts.

Normally, Bahria Town plays its vile games through its registered dealers/investors, so you might be advised by big dealers to get rid of your files as soon as possible. They might even offer you an alternative such as some adjustment/merger option in something else that will benefit themselves as well as relieve Bahria Town. If people fall prey to such policies in desperation, they will ultimately regret their decision as Bahria Town will utilize its available land for new launches rather than relocating the affectees.

Kudos to social media platforms which have made it possible for the general public to raise their concerns against this flagrant case of fraud by Bahria Town which has affected thousands of people. The majority of affectees were not investors, but common people including a large number of Overseas Pakistanis, who are raising their voice on social media, submitting their concerns to Bahria Town, submitting complaints against Bahria Town to Government Bodies, and planning to stage protests against this injustice.

People can learn from the recent example of the DHA City Lahore case, where affectees showed their determination and staged several peaceful protests against DHA. They used all possible means to raise their voices and remained focused and consistent on their demand for plots. Ultimately, the matter was resolved in the Supreme Court, and DHA had to adjust all the affectees in DHA Phase 13.

Similarly, affectees of Bahria Town Karachi should not accept anything less than their plots at the same location or some better location in old precincts where ample land has been left as reserved for future developments. It is unwise to sell off your plots at minus rates or claim refund at this stage. People should join together and constitute a committee that can plead the case of victims at all legal and social forums. Once Bahria Town realizes that it cannot avert the pressure from the general public, it will have no option but to give in to the demands of the affectees.

It is our responsibility to help the innocent victims of Bahria Town Karachi to raise their voice on social media and demand justice for them. If you are one of the victims having plots in Bahria Paradise, Sports City or Old BTK Precincts 23A, 29,32,33, and Valley Block (A,B,C,D), you must join this Facebook Group to interact with other affectees and play your part in the pursuit of justice.