By BarkatUllah Baloch
Real estate business is thriving once again after the announcement of China Pakistan Economic Corridor Project(CPEC). Real estate agents and investors are heading towards Gwadar again to cash in on the conducive environment.
After the inauguration of Gwadar Port project by former president Pervez Musharraf in 2002, the land price in the city jumped to new heights. The plots which no one would purchase even at the lowest rates, saw their rates reach the skies in no time and the real estate business grew to exponentially. Hundreds of real estate agencies mushroomed in the port town but most of the housing schemes did not make progress in developmental work on the site.
The real estate dealers bought the valuable land from the naive locals at the cheapest rate and sold it for millions of rupees to the buyers from outside Gwadar. Thus they deprived the locals of their ancestors land. During his visit to Gwadar, former Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif assured the affectees compensation, which was due.
In the past, mega scams and irregularities have surfaced in Gwadar land deals. The same piece of land was sold multiple times to different buyers, which resulted in disputes. Now a single plot is claimed by different people. Naseer kalanchi, a Gwadar resident whose plot is also claimed by another party said, “The first owner of my plot created fake documents after selling me and re-sold the plot to another client as well.
The Ups and Down of Real Estate Market:
In the port town as well as in the main cities, bill boards and new real estate offices could be seen dealing in property of Gwadar. Because of this, it is said the real benefit of Gwadar property has been harvested not by locals but by non-locals.
The ups and downs in Gwadar property rates have also worried people a lot. One day the prices are touching skies and the next day it sees the nadir. Ghulam Haidar, a resident of Ziarat Machi, a suburb of Gwadar, just 20 km away from the main city says, “The land, I sold last year for RS 1 hundred thousand an acre is now being sold for RS 10 hundred thousand an acre.”
Since the re-surge of land price in Gwadar, the instances of many people claiming the same land have also multiplied. The local newspapers are seen full of land claimer ads. Javed Baluch a local journalist says, “40% of the ads that we publish are related to land claims, the people who claim that their lands have been usurped illegally.”
Patwari’s are said to have benefited the most in this business who allegedly aided the powerful land mafia in grabbing the most pricey pieces of land. People remember it even today how the beach was allotted to people and canceled by government action later. People involved in property business say that even today measuring and owning land is impossible without allegedly filling the coffers of Patwaris.
The provincial government has cancelled allotment of thousands of acres in Zabad Dun, a suburb of Gwadar and declared it a government land. But the local people claim that they inherited the land from their forefathers. Zabad Dun is a deserted area near the sub district of Pashkan.
The former nazim of Pashkan, Baba Adam says, “This land has been the rightful property of the local people for centuries and all of a sudden its cancellation is not a step in the right direction”. Dozens of private housing societies are being restored. But many of these housing societies were suspended in the past by Gwadar Housing Authority, for not fulfilling the terms and conditions.
Shahid Ali, Director Town Planning, Gwadar Development Authority says, “the licenses of those housing societies, which could not meet the terms and conditions set by the government, have been cancelled. Some of the housing societies whose NOCs were cancelled are Gulberg City in Chiti Shumali in suburbs of Gwadar, Falcon Homes located in Praheen Tok, Rabia City of Kia Kalat and Gwadar Royal Gardens situated in Shabi.
From time to time, there have been allegations of irregularities in government owned housing schemes New Town and Singhar Housing Scheme.
The Grievances of Land Affectees:
Mohammad Haneef, a resident of Gwadar spoke to Pak Voices, saying, “My plot was located on the front. But the administration (allegedly) deprived me of it by allotting it to someone else and allotting me one on the back side.”
He added, “I even protested against this but to dead ears”. No one is ready to listen to my story.
Mohammad Akbar, a local dealer in real estate says, “One of his clients, Yousaf Dewan purchased a 1000 square yards commercial plot in Singhar Housing Scheme. But the owner forged the documents for the same plot and re-sold it to someone else.”
Despite repeated complaints by Dewan to the concerned department, no justice has been done yet.
Naseer Ahmed a local property dealer opines about the fluctuation in prices of plots in these words: “This is a game by the estate dealers; they bring down the prices when they want to purchase properties and plots, but when they have to sell their land then they raise the price.”
He explained, “They also create artificial demand for plots in a specific society and ultimately the price soars and then it’s their time to reap benefits of billions of rupees.”
Will the old city Be Shifted Under New Gwadar Master PLan?
Abdul Aziz Baluch, a local leader of BNP (Mengal) talked to PakVoices expressing his concerns regarding the new Airport project and the new master plan of Gwadar. There are reports of relocating the old city completely under the new master plan.
According to the local people, Mulla Band, a locality in Gwadar has been completely shifted to a new place. Besides this, there is a plan to relocate Dhor, a neighborhood in the north of the Port in near future. The locals have expressed concerns over the compensation, being offered by the government. Dhor has been declared a part of the free zone under CPEC.
Abdul a resident of Dhor says, “We have not been paid according to the market value which is our right. We will not vacate our land for any amount lesser than the current market.”
The Gwadar citizens demand that the local people should not be shifted for a particular amount of money, rather the land should be contracted on the lease so that the locals receive a proper remuneration. Behram Baluch a local journalist of Gwadar says, “The real estate agents have reaped the biggest benefit in the development of Gwadar, and on the other hand a lot of people have lost the land bought against their lifetime savings.”
The writer works as a citizen journalist with Pak Voices from Gwadar.
Edited by Hasan Khan
Translated by Tariq Mehmood