Lands in Astana are distributed haphazardly and their further use is not controlled, President Nazarbayev is reported by Tengrinews as saying at the meeting on Astana's development earlier this week.
Prime-Minister Serik Akhmetov, Chief of the Presidential Administration Karim Massimov, Samruk-Kazyna Chairman of the Board Umirzak Shukeev, Vice Chief of the Presidential Administration Gabdullah Abdrakhimov, Prosecutor General Askhat Dauletbayev, Akim (Mayor) of Astana Imangali Tasmagambetov and Akim (Governor) of Akmola Oblast Kosman Aitmukhambetov participated in the meeting held by the President.
The President is concerned over the lack of order in the regions surrounding Astana city, thriving squatting and land speculations. So he declared a moratorium on distribution of land.
“The areas surrounding Astana are developing haphazardly. The city's population has already exceeded the numbers planned for the year 2015. There are now 156 thousand actual residents (in Astana) and there are 174 thousand people on the wait list for land lots," said the President.
According to the Kazakhstan legislation every citizen is eligible for free 1000 square meters of land from the Government to construct a house. So people are entering their names onto the waiting lists. Being a rapidly developing city Astana has become a very attractive location to get a free piece of land in. However there is a number of conditions that make the land eligible for distribution quite limited: the land should be suitable for living and be within the range of power lines and utilities and the city that the land belongs to should be ready for more residents. Besides, those who get the land are supposed to live there - actually build a house - not just keep the land hoping to sell it at a high price when the time comes.
And people continue filing applications, availing of their right to get 1000 square meters of land. But only the lands that are attached to the utility networks can be distributed. If a land is not ready it is not supposed to be provided for individual construction. We have to sort out the mess in the land development. That is why I am declaring a moratorium on provision of land lots within 30 kilometers from Astana,” Nazarbayev continued.
After the meeting, the Minister of Regional Development Bolat Zhamishev told the reporters that the moratorium may be lifted in 2014. “The moratorium will remain in force until a comprehensive development plan for Astana and its suburban areas is prepared. The general plan is to be completed in 2014,” said Zhamishev.
"The city's population is growing and has already officially reached 900 thousand people. Whereas we planned to reach this number only in 2020-2030. The city's housing systems are unable to keep up with this pace," the President said.
He pointed out that some citizens were abusing their right to get a free land lot from the government. The government is attempting to return the land it gave away in this cases and put it to a better use.
According to the President, 188 land lots totaling 7000 hectares were returned to the government ownership. “According to the General Prosecutor’s Office, 11 thousand hectares of such land lots have not been developed or returned. 711 of them were provided for individual construction, but no construction have ever started,” said the President.
Nazarbayev told the officials to put an end to the practice of selling the land back to the government at a higher price once it becomes the location of some large construction project. “Returning the money that people spent buying the land is one thing", but this is different, said the President.
The problem of the land right abuse is not exclusive for Astana, it is very relevant to Almaty, too.
President Nazarbayev ordered the officials to step up work to restoring order in the land registrars. The President ordered the Governor of Akmola Oblast Kosman Aitmukhambetov to revise the general plans of all the residential areas neighboring Astana, and ordered Prosecutor General Askhat Dauletbayev to analyze the situation and deal with the land violations and enhance crime prevention measures.