By Tayyeb Afridi Started 25 years back by the Peshawar Development Authority (PDA), Regi Model Town project has yet to see the light of the day—thanks to the successive provincial governments who failed to materialize the biggest housing project of the provincial metropolis.
Land dispute with the locals besides construction of an approach road are stated to be the main obstacles in the way of this mega 27,000-house project. “Actually, this land was not properly acquired by PDA” said Ali Akbar, vice chairman of the Movement for Saving Regi Model Town. Had it been acquired properly there would have been no disputes, he added.
The claims of the residents of Regi village and its adjacent Kokikhel tribe over the land could be addressed if the government was serious to resolve the issue. This is why, Ali Akbar said, two zones of the project—Zone 2 and Zone 5—stand disputed. However, there is no controversy over 1,3,4 zones of the housing project.
Apart from land disputes, there is no direct approach road to the township. Earlier, a link road through Kacha Garhi was planned as without this road the project will be a sheer failure.Over the last 24 years, the cost of the project has also increased manifold. At the time of planning its estimated cost was Rs. 7 billion but now it has jumped to Rs. 35 billion.
Perhaps that is the reason PDA is not building any school, hospital, or playground in the undisputed zones, said Arsala Khan, a member of the Movement for Saving Regi Model Town.
Started in 1991, the project came to the limelight in 2000, when Malik Saad, then PDA director general, accelerated development work on Regi, restoring the confidence of the people to invest in this township. However, his transfer from to another department once again delayed the much-needed project.
Subsequently in 2008, the Awami National Party (ANP) government also demonstrated lack of political will to continue development work on this project and resolve land disputes. Instead, they floated the idea of establishing a new housing project—Asfandyar Township.
The residents of Peshawar pinned high hopes on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to treat this project fairly as they came in power with a slogan of change and good governance. But so far no significant progress on this project could be witnessed. However, like previous governments, PTI has also constituted a committee to resolve land disputes.
It was expected that after successfully handling Hayatabad Township to owners, the PDA will be able to make this biggest housing project a success but the dream is yet to be materialized.