Officials term RR project recovery uphill task

Commissioner Rawalpindi division asks district administration to recover Rs2.45b paid to landowners

Imran Asghar August 07, 2021
Map shows the new alignment of the proposed Rawalpindi Ring Road Project. PHOTO: EXPRESS


A day after Commissioner Rawalpindi Division Syed Gulzar Hussain Shah annulled the land acquisition award of the Rawalpindi Ring Road project, officials have termed the recovery of money paid to the landowners in Rawalpindi and Attock a herculean task

The commissioner Rawalpindi division while cancelling the acquisition of land for the road project on Wednesday had directed district officials to form teams to recover Rs2.45 billion paid to the landowners in Rawalpindi and Attock.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior official of the Ring Road Project Management Unit told The Express Tribune that work on the road project was suspended soon after the scandal surfaced. He said that now the commissioner Rawalpindi division has directed the administrations to return the land gained for the project to the landlords and recover Rs2.45 billion, which will be very difficult to accomplish.

The official said that former land acquisition collector Wasim Tabish had paid a total sum of Rs2.45 billion for 6,600-kanal of land in Rawalpindi and 4,700-kanal in Attock.

Sources said that the land acquisition award has now been cancelled and deputy commissioners of Attock and Rawalpindi have mobilized resources to recover the amount paid to the landlords.

According to the official, the district administrators also held a lengthy session with officers of the Punjab revenue department, the Rawalpindi Development Authority and the assistant commissioners of both districts, but the administration could not come up with a plan of action to recover the money paid to the landlords.

According to the official, the administrations of both districts have declared that the recovery from the landlords was an uphill task and almost nigh impossible.

Read: Ring Road scandal probe team finds 'crucial evidence'

“The administration fears that if pressure is exerted on the landlords to return the money, they will approach courts, which will lead to further delays and complications,” the official said adding that many landlords who sold their lands to the Punjab government for the project were not ready for the refund.

He said that despite the land award cancellation order issued by the commissioner Rawalpindi division, the administration was reluctant to expedite the recovery process.

The official said that the district administrations had asked the provincial board of revenue to denotify the land award first before starting the recovery process, but it has not yet entertained the request. “Without denotifying the land acquisition, the money cannot be recovered from the landlords,” he said.

Commissioner Rawalpindi Division Gulzar Hussain Shah said that he has cancelled the award under the Land Acquisition Act 1894 and directed the administrations to recover the amount paid to the landlords in Rawalpindi and Attock.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2021.


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