Diamer-Bhasha land compensation: Irregularities worth over Rs500m allegedly committed

Land category altered to benefit high-ups, says internal memo

Peer Muhammad January 13, 2016
Land category altered to benefit high-ups, says internal memo. PHOTO: INP

ISLAMABAD: Massive irregularities of over Rs500 million have been allegedly committed by the bureaucracy, in connivance with revenue officials, in land compensation for the Diamer-Bhasha Dam project, revealed an internal official memo.

Irregularities were committed during the distribution of compensation among the dam-affected people when barren land was shown as being cultivable through revenue officials, in collusion with the top bureaucracy in Gilgit-Baltistan and Islamabad.

“Instead of benefiting the dam-affected people, the category of land was altered to benefit bureaucrats and political elites; from local tehsildar to top office holders in the federal ministry in Islamabad,” said the sources.

The irregularities were revealed by an internal verification report on the land acquisition prepared by an assistant commissioner, who submitted it to his high-ups on October 8, 2015 and recommended action against the responsible elements.

However, instead of taking action against the ones responsible, the assistant commissioner was removed from his office.

A copy of the official memo is available with The Express Tribune, and it reveals that more than Rs572.66 million loss has been incurred to the national exchequer by making changes to the category of lands ‘from barren to cultivatable’ in the documents in the 43 khasra verified land out of the total 1,230 khasras in the site of Diamer-Bhasha Dam.

The commissioner further said in his report that the verification was under process in the remaining khasras to estimate as well as save losses to the exchequer.

Yet, according to sources, instead of implementing his recommendations, this official was removed immediately by the higher authorities

When contacted, G-B Chief Secretary Tahir Hussain, however, partially admitted that the verification report of the concerned officer was somewhat correct, but his intention was dubious as he posted himself to Chilas from Lahore and dispatched his verification report to all high offices including the Prime Minister Secretariat instead of sending it to the concerned quarters.

When asked as to why he was removed from his office right after his report, he said, “his activities appeared to be suspicious.”

Hussain added that the G-B administration re-measured the lands at the dam site in 2015 and did indeed find some lands in papers that did not exist on ground and thus saved up to Rs3 billion in  losses to the national exchequer.

“To maintain transparency, we have now engaged both ‘The Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission’ (SUPARCO) and NADRA for categorising and paying compensation to the affected people through satellite imagery.”

Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2016.

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