NAB to probe LDA City Lahore ‘land scam’
Zulqernain Tahir — Updated about 24 hours ago
LAHORE: Acting on a number of complaints against the Lahore Development Authority’s own project – LDA City – the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has finally decided to probe its affairs.
“We have received complaints of irregularities and wrongdoings in the LDA City Project and sought its complete record from the authority,” a NAB Lahore spokesman told Dawn on Thursday.
He said primarily the LDA and its development partners were accused of selling the land (plots) more than they acquired. “After examining the record of the project and probing the complaints the NAB will decide further action,” he said.
Opposition party — the Pakistan Tahreek-i-Insaf — had also pinpointed “massive irregularities” in the project.
Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly, Mahmoodur Rasheed, alleged that four private companies “owned by some favourites of the government had so far collected Rs16 billion in the name of the scheme, using name of a state entity”.
Rasheed said: “The government is using arm-twisting tactics like blocking water supply to the standing crops to force the owners to sell out their agriculture land for the scheme.”
The opposition had also moved an adjournment motion in the assembly on the issue and demanded the chief minister, as chairman of LDA, take notice of it which is going to be a mega land scam that was depriving people of their hard earned money.
The LDA City, said to be the largest housing project in the country comprising more than 60,000 kanals was announced last year in Lahore on Ferozepur Road.
The Punjab government has already notified seven mauzas — Kahna, Kacha, Thay Panju, Sidhar, Halloki, Rakh Jhedu and Toor Warraich — to be acquired for the project. The land acquisition in the aforementioned villages has been continuing for the last six months or so. The LDA has reportedly decided not to acquire the land directly from landowners and hired six development firms for the purpose. Under the agreement, the development partners would get one-third of developed plots of the total land they would surrender or transfer to LDA. The LDA would also pay them one per cent of the total cost of the surrendered land as commission.
Meanwhile, some 2,000 employees of the University of Engineering and Technology Housing Society (Phase-II, Kala Shah Kaku) have urged the NAB to probe the affairs of the society as they have not been allotted plots despite paying partial and in many cases full amounts.
“A good number of the UET employees have filed complaints with the NAB, requesting it to probe into the matter and help them either in getting their plots or their money,” an employee told Dawn.
He said the UET management was not helping the employees in resolving the issue. The employees also demanded right to vote to elect their representatives.
A varsity spokesman told Dawn that some 300 acres were to be acquired by the management of the society, but it purchased only 107 acres, thus committing fraud.
“Prof Ehsanullah Bajwa and Qamar Rafique, the president and the secretary, respectively, of the society were given forced retirement on the charges of corruption
in its affairs,” the spokesman said, adding after that the society’s administrative affairs had been handed over to the Punjab cooperative department’s registrar as the UET management has nothing to do with the society’s affairs now.
Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2015