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Pakistan launching new housing schemes for low-income groups

 ISLAMABAD, November 17 (Internews): Pakistan is to start new housing
 schemes for low-income groups, Minister for Local Government Omar Asghar  Khan has said.
 In an interview on Pakistan Television Saturday, he said a new sector is
 being started in Islamabad where 9,000 plots of three, five and seven
 marla-size would be given to deserving persons.
 "The government is making efforts to start similar projects in different
 parts of the country," he said, adding that in the past under such  schemes people were given plots but instead of building houses they sold  their plots. Some even purchased plots in bulk in the names of other  persons.
 "This time, the process of allotments will be made transparent and it  will be ensured that mistakes of the past are not repeated," Omar  pledged.  The minister said the problem of slums is serious in cities like  Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad and Multan and the blamed the  previous governments for not carrying out any planning to solve the  housing problem.  "We have been building big housing associations for the well-to-do but  no almost none for those who need them most," Omar noted.  "We have a new policy that is ready for implementation under which slums  that have at least 40 homes and fulfil preset criteria will be regularised and provided basic utilities and civic amenities," the  minister said.  The emphasis would be on regularisation of slums and not on shifting  residents of these localities. The government will arrange for alternate
 sites in case shifting of the slum dwellers is inevitable. These sites would be near the places of employment.  Another salient feature of the new housing policy is that no one would be summarily evicted unless provided with an alternative dwelling.
The state-owned House Building Finance Corporation has been given  instructions to issue new loans for housing units after clearance of  stuck-up loans. Similarly, the micro-finance Khushhali Bank will arrange  credit for housing schemes of poor people.
 "Land owning agencies are reluctant to provide sites for shifting slum  dwellers so we have assured them that the government will be responsible  for their land and they should provide land on suitable rates to people," the minister added. -Internews

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