By Tayyeb Afridi
In Swat, people have given an unprecedented response to Imran Khan’s flagship project – Neya Pakistan Housing Scheme – where more than 52,000 people registered for subsidised housing during a registration campaign from 22 October, until 21 December, 2018.
It could have received more than double applications if there was a media campaign for registration. But that’s also a huge number in a district having 2.3 million population.
Swat was the only district from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that was included in the initial phase of the massive housing project. The eligibility criteria was simple as only one person from a family (husband, wife, children) were eligible to apply for the scheme. According to reports, preference will be given to those who don’t own independent residential unit in Pakistan.
No one was reported to be rejected at the time of apply. People were allowed to register even for Islamabad’s Neya Pakistan Housing scheme. That was very interesting. It seems anyone from any district can apply for other district schemes. It will be seen whether they can go with such option in the second phase or it was just one-time option for phase 1 pilot project.
One of the concerns of the people in Swat was that there is no flat ground available for building houses and people were speculating how these houses will be built without flat land. Perhaps there could be some space in Kanju Township that could be utilized under this scheme.
Swat is the third largest district of KP after Peshawar and Mardan. The registration could be far bigger in Peshawar and Mardan than Swat. In this context, It seems only a handful of districts in will be provided with housing schemes otherwise 5 million application could be filled up only from KP.
Unfortunately, successive governments have not taken urbanization seriously and the cities have expanded exponentially without planning. The governments have actually left this domain only to a private sector, who in many cases deceived innocent people, at home or abroad, in the name of planning.
In such a situation, this housing program provide hope to middle class as the government would itself play the role of regulator and facilitator to deliver enabling environment to public, private and non-profit organisations to build low-cast houses.