Nepotism in land allotment to be investigated

PAC directed the lease of 4000 acres of land to be cancelled and returned to the Sindh Government.

Peer Muhammad November 05, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) ordered a probe into plot allotments by former president General Ziaul Haq. During a meeting held in Islamabad, the committee ordered an inquiry into six plots allotted during General Zia-ul-Haq’s tenure to six military officers in Islamabad, including the Air Marshall and Air Vice Marshall in 1982.

The committee directed the lease of 4000 acres of land to be cancelled and returned to the Sindh Government.

Meanwhile, concerned authorities have been directed to consult the Law Ministry regarding the recovery procedure of these plots.

The special committee of PAC told the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to investigate the matter on Thursday, giving the authority two months to provide a detailed report.

It is suspected that the land was given to people favoured by Haq, including former Air Marshall Anwar Shamim.

The committee chairman also sought legal advice from the law ministry pertaining to the legality of a ruler allotting abandoned plots at a throw-away price and whether these allotments could now be cancelled.

According to the details provided to PAC by the cabinet division, no abandoned property can be sold, allotted or disposed off to other person.

In spite of this, the CDA allotted six “abandoned plots” to certain individuals in 1981-82 without even consulting the Abandoned Properties Organisation (APO).

In 1982, President Haq directed CDA to provide compensation to APO in cash or by allotment of equivalent number of these plots.

This directive was not implemented until September 1988 when CDA finally paid Rs596,755 (Rs70 per square yard).

This amount was even less than what the CDA had itself suggested as the compensation rate for “disposal of plots under the Directives of the President” (Rs125 per sq. yard).

The amount paid was no where close to prevailing market rates. Even the minimum market value of these plots in 1988 was much more than the money paid. So APO received a “meagre amount”.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 5th, 2010.

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