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Disabled people take control of disputed land

Disabled people take control of disputed land

Jun 28, 2011 - 18:29

KABULinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): A community of disabled persons has begun building boundary walls and installing gates on disputed land in the Rahman Mina area of Kabul.

The land is claimed by Onyx Private Construction Company, but members of the  disabled community say the land belongs to the government, and that they are therefore entitled by law to live there.

Five percent of the land in Kabul is reserved for persons with disabilities, but the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled Persons has not allocated land for the disabled in 10 years, said Hajji Janan, a man who lost two legs in the civil war and hopes to build a home on the disputed site.

Therefore, members of the disabled have taken it upon themselves to seize the land, he said. In the last three weeks they have taken control of nearly 10 out of 140 acres of land claimed by Onyx.

The disabled have established camps on the plots and displayed coffins in front of each camp, indicating that the government would have to crush them if it intends to raze their camps. 

“If police don’t allow us to bring construction materials, we will build mud houses, but will not stop the construction,” said Hajji Janan. "The ministry should not prevent us from constructing houses," Janan said.

Another disabled person said they would not abandon the land even if it cost them their lives. “We have nothing to lose. If the government stops the work, we will commit self-immolation,” the individual said.

Another disabled person said they had not seized land from an individual, but from the government, as the government was responsible to allot them plots.

Security officials say they have arrested eight people transferring construction materials to the area. They confirmed that the squatters had begun constructing walls and gates in the area.

The police chief of the 8th municipal district, Col. Abdul Hafiz, said they had not given permission for the people to start construction on the land and that police had clashed with the squatters four times in the past. He said construction materials are transferred to the site by various means. Residents of the area are sympathetic to the disabled community’s goals, he said, and help them smuggle construction materials to the site.

The district municipality chief, Munir, said the land belonged to the government, and that the disabled community has the backing of some government officials.

"The municipality had plans to construct a mosqueinfo-icon, a clinic, schools and a recreational park in the area, before the land was grabbed by the Onyx," he said.

Pajhwok Afghan News reported on April 17 that at least 140 acres of government-owned land in the Rahman Mina neighbourhood of Kabul were grabbed by Onyx private construction firm.

Based on documentary evidence provided to Pajhwok by Kabul Municipality, the area that has been converted into residential plots by Onyx was surveyed in 1979 and classified as state property meant for a green belt.

All official procedures were flouted by Onyx in developing the township, according to documents made available to the news agency.  "Under the master plan, land and plots in the area cannot be allotted, sold or purchased," the municipality said in a letter to the General Administration Directorate of the Judiciary.

The company claims to have purchased the prized land from individuals who had legal ownership documents.

After publication of the report, the Council of Ministers discussed the issue and the Cabinet's Economic Committee conferred on the role of the Kabul Municipality and the Ministry of Urban Development in approving the controversial housing scheme.


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