ISLAMABAD: While an inquiry of the Cabinet Division on the status of a valuable piece of land’s previous ‘lessees’ is underway, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has almost finalised a deal to allot it at a throwaway price. Measuring 14 kanals, the land consists of eight nurseries and is located on Park Road. Officials on Friday said that the deal was made with an influential contractor who was accorded the lease for a 30-year period.
CDA allotted these nurseries, on the 2.5 acres of land, for just Rs21.2 million, with the Finance Directorate pricing this lucrative piece of land at a mere Rs189,255 per kanal.
Sources told The Express Tribune that the entire procedure was being conducted without advertising or holding an open bidding.
CDA Board approved this controversial deal, but while talking to The Express Tribune half of the board members revealed their unawareness of the details of the contract. As per the agreement, the lease period is extendable to 99 years.
Out of eight, five nurseries belong to a single person. CDA Board, in its meeting held in April 2010, had formally approved the transfer of land to lessees who had been previously occupying the land. The board also asked the Environment Directorate of the authority, author of the summary, to issue transfer letters of the land to lessees, sources said.
A senior official in the Environment Directorate of CDA told The Express Tribune that such land could only be leased out after competent bidding.
Financial Advisor for CDA Saeedur Rehman said that the issue of nurseries’ allotment came to the forefront a few months ago. He said it was an issue of ‘lease extension,’ therefore there was no need to conduct an auction or open bidding. Contrary to his claims, Estate Directorate officials revealed that the contractors were running these eight nurseries on temporary licenses and were paying Rs6, 000 per month rent for them.
Director Estate Management Waqar Ali Khan, who has recently taken additional charge as Director Land, said that the owners of these eight nurseries had been running their business at Park Road since 1960. They had been given land on lease of a 30-year period following the recommendations of a three member committee comprising Member Engineering, Member Finance and Member Environment, he said. The deal was made on the condition that they could not change their trade and the lease period was not extendable.
CDA Member Environment Mian Waheedud Din told The Express Tribune that he recently took charge of his office and after thorough studying of this issue could be in a position to comment. Member Engineering Abdul Jabbar Malano said that he was unaware of the details of the deal and sought time before commenting on it.
Member Estate SM Farooqui said, “Yes, the case was referred to the CDA Board for approval in April this year.” Responding to a question, he said his directorate had no direct concern with the issue and he was not aware of its details.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2010.