Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa: Rs5 billion land scam leads to chief minister house

Published: December 15, 2010
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Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti. PHOTO: FILE

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: A mind-boggling Rs5 billion land scam has hit Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa after Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti secretly approved the allotment of 170 acres of olive orchards to an unknown construction and manufacturing firm.

The Rawalpindi-based M/s NI Associates, reportedly owned by a front man of a top Awami National Party (ANP) leader, purchased the land at a throwaway price. Hoti had cancelled a 12-year-old lease agreement with the federal government’s olive oil research station at Mardan, spelling the demise of the multi-billion rupee project to promote edible oil production in Pakistan.

The market price of 170 acres or 1,361 kanals of agricultural land, now given to the private party located on Mardan-Swabi road, has been estimated at Rs5 billion.  The commercial value of 20,000 mature olive trees and other fruit orchards and machinery has yet to be ascertained in monetary terms. The olive trees were gifted by Turkey and Italy to help Pakistan attain self-sufficiency in edible oil in a bid to help it reduce its import bill, which has touched $2 billion per annum.

The whole drama of allotment unfolded when a 100-strong police contingent led by a DSP raided Pakistan Oil Development Board (PODB)’s research station on December 3 – the same day the land was officially allotted in favour of one Mr Javed Iqbal. The police broke the locks and kicked out its employees. It took control of the orchards at gun point and gave them in Mr Iqbal’s possession.

The lease agreement between the provincial Auqaf department which owned the land and PODB was to end in 2012 but the provincial government prematurely terminated the contract.

Mr Mushtaq, Provincial Director, PODB research farm, Mardan, wrote a strongly-worded letter in protest to Administrator Auqaf, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Mr Inaam Khan. The police raid was a breach of the law of the land, norms and official decorum and in detriment to the nation’s interests, the letter said.

The mother olive orchard and germplasm unit was to be used for obtaining bud wood for grafting onto wild olive trees. He warned that PODB would not vacate these olive oil orchards, considering the fact that the infrastructure was developed at huge financial cost and ten years’ research and experimentation.

Hundreds of official documents confirming the land scam, available with The Express Tribune, reveal that PODB was informed on December 6, 2010, by Inaam Khan in writing that Mr Javed Iqbal of M/s NI Associates was to take possession of the land.

“You are requested to kindly shift the equipments/machinery lying on the premises of the said Auqaf land within ten days time so that the site be cleared for the new lessee.”

The competent authority had approved the long lease of plot measuring 1,361 kanals at Machi Sangbhatti, Marddan to M/s NI Associates Construction Manufacturing Trading Consultancy of Modern farming of 155-A, Bank Road Saddar Rawalpindi at the rate of Rs1,200 per kanal for twenty years, read the original notification.

Twelve different varieties of olive trees were planted on 140 acres of land from 2001 to 2005. A germplasm unit was also established on 10 acres. Twelve olive cultivators of 288 plants were imported from different countries for evaluation. The performance of these cultivators was to be completed over three years. University students were to do research work in these orchards. PODB’s research farm had also installed six green houses for olive production. Presently, 10,000 of air layering were shifted and remaining nursery was in progress.

A metrological station used for recording temperature, humidity, chilling hours, wind speed data has also passed into the hands of the new lessee, along with three tube wells and a drip irrigation system.

This correspondent made telephone calls to Secretary, Auqaf department, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Mr Nauman Shah Jadoon and to Administrator Auqaf, Mr Inaam Khan, to get their point of view. They refused to attend their calls. Nor did the gentlemen reply to text messages sent on their mobile phones.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (28)

  • Maulana Diesel
    Dec 15, 2010 - 7:24AM

    Fantastic work Rauf Klasra. I am from KP and the level of corruption under the ANP government has reached astronomical levels in the province. This is another case of where great work already done by a department has been wasted and the whole project given to some company at throw away prices.Recommend

  • Asrar Ahmed
    Dec 15, 2010 - 7:33AM

    Will someone stop the loot.
    There is mega corruption scandal news every day.
    One can write a book about who the present set up in center and provinces is looting and plundering the countryRecommend

  • Kamil Bangash
    Dec 15, 2010 - 7:37AM

    What do you expect, nation-building?! They are all in the market to make a quick buck. One of these days, our country will meet its logical end, whatever that may be, and we are getting there. Hurry it up and get it over with. Recommend

  • Dr.Razi Uddin Khan
    Dec 15, 2010 - 8:07AM

    It looks ,that taking example of their leading partners sitting in Islamabad,Awami National party leaders are on the run for anything and everything they can get their hands to!! ,and the best place to do it is in their own Kyber pukhtunkhwa…no wonder, this province has been declared most corrupt of the four …even though it is being most hit by counter terrorism…is this the sham democracy they keep shouting about?
    It is high time ,some one so familiar in past to intervene,and save our country from looters,plunderers….before it is too late!!!!Recommend

  • jbutt
    Dec 15, 2010 - 8:16AM

    Shame on ANPRecommend

  • mnkhan
    Dec 15, 2010 - 8:43AM

    the details of the scam seems factual, and a valid invitation to C J to take notice,
    as this will be the first case of pukhtoonkhawa to be taken care off.Recommend

  • Falak
    Dec 15, 2010 - 9:18AM

    This blows my mind, what is it that the civil society can do to bring this issue to justice. How do we throw out such corrupt and disgusting government officials? I, like many of my friends, am at a complete loss in the face of such shameless and open corruption.Recommend

  • muhammad arif
    Dec 15, 2010 - 9:39AM

    why hasn’t any media outlet covered the story of wilson augustine who was tortured & then set on fire by muslim boys in sargodha for being a christian.following is the link :

    http://www.compassdirect.org/english/country/pakistan/29641Recommend

  • Dec 15, 2010 - 10:04AM

    There is a famous saying in Pashto since the ANP Government came in power “Baba Ta Easy Load Oka” (meaning Help the elders of ANP by contributing through Easy Load service. Recommend

  • Farooq
    Dec 15, 2010 - 10:11AM

    Democracy is the “Best Revenge” we understand the real meanings of this slogan now, we heard it few years back but remained ignorant for so long.Recommend

  • Dec 15, 2010 - 10:12AM

    First you kill the trees and then you sell the land to a land mafia. What non-sense. Recommend

  • Ali Khan
    Dec 15, 2010 - 10:15AM

    Previously there were easy loads in KP and now we witness uneasy loads.Recommend

  • Adeel Ahmed
    Dec 15, 2010 - 10:40AM

    Is every sitting minister in this government corrupt?

    Hats off to media and high courts for bringing these to light for the whole country to see politicians’ real faces. Recommend

  • Maria
    Dec 15, 2010 - 11:21AM

    I’m glad that this alleged scam has been exposed. Regardless of how horrible it is, we can see that awareness has grown in Pakistan to expose corrupt practices. I was pleased to hear that the rental power scheme people who breeched their contract were forced to pay back the money they received. I hope that when further enquiries are made of this incident, the provincial government will be forced to do the right thing. This is how institutions and accountability in governments evolve. I’m very interested to see how things progress because this story may be another step in the growing pains of the nation towards maturity.Recommend

  • Dec 15, 2010 - 11:35AM

    Well, the report needs to be verified, The best will be that the so called independent Judiciary take another notice of an issue pertaining to the populace and bring the facts out to the people. I’m sure people won’t turn their ears deef on this news artticle and that the corrupotion or lie will be brought out.Recommend

  • NaK
    Dec 15, 2010 - 11:41AM

    Did PM unhappy to another allaince ?? or bear them in this crucial time ??Recommend

  • Zulfiqar Haider
    Dec 15, 2010 - 11:44AM

    ANP claims so much, and look what they have done now. I believe the company that took over had the plan in mind to take over the years and years of hard work done by someone else and simply use it for its own favor. It is a shame that the place that was being used by university students would no longer be available. Recommend

  • kashif
    Dec 15, 2010 - 11:44AM

    Shame on us all of pakistani….we again and again select these politician. I appreciate to Mr. Klasra, you file these stories.Recommend

  • Pashtun
    Dec 15, 2010 - 12:17PM

    And this is why folks, people continue to support the talibs.Recommend

  • nasim ahmed
    Dec 15, 2010 - 12:18PM

    When it is happening in Islamabad,Ministry of Haj,Ministry of water and power,Karachi being ruled by transport,land and drug mafia.So what is wrong if the CM of PK did it afterall he also knows that elections are ahead and he may not be the CM again.Recommend

  • Atif Khan
    Dec 15, 2010 - 1:03PM

    Afghani Taliban please save us.Recommend

  • Dec 15, 2010 - 2:49PM

    This seems end of time for this government. If high offices are involved, who can guarantee clean operations in lower offices. This is absoultely necessary to throw away corrupt politicians and machinery once and for all.Recommend

  • Yousaf
    Dec 15, 2010 - 5:00PM

    good Job!!Recommend

  • shan
    Dec 15, 2010 - 7:16PM

    this is a very shamful act from the chief minister.because this difficult time they shold act passititve for the people.Recommend

  • Muhammad Muneer Khattak
    Dec 16, 2010 - 2:43PM

    I appreciate your work Mr.Klasra.Please invistigate the corruption scandel of Azam swati.He buy the ticket of senate by giving huge amount to money mulana fazal rehman.Recommend

  • Dec 17, 2010 - 12:20PM

    Corruption is rampant today in KP, Sind, Balochistan and even Islamabad at a level which is unprecedented, because there is nobody in government who seems to think that this is wrong. In Punjab there is corruption, but there is some sort of check and fear that if caught they may land up in jail or their properties get confiscated. Although corruption is an international phenomenon and linked with free market economy, where men with greed try to make quick fast bucks. But the executive is always seen to be custodian of the national exchequer and therefore it is seen prosecuting those caught with their hands in the till. Unfortunately in Pakistan the elected executive and civil bureaucracy have themselves become the chief architects and beneficiaries of corruption, which is cause for concern. This is just like the military, which we arm to protect our geographical borders from external threat turning their weapons to take over power and government. Recommend

  • Arshad Mahmood
    Dec 17, 2010 - 8:39PM

    Great effort Mr. Klasra! You did a good job however, this is only the beginning and you still need to go a long way. Plots, permits, contracts, extensions to ‘like minded’ government servants and many more things needs to be investigated and there are hundreds of stories and corruption cases. Media and judiciary are the two pillars of the state that the masses are now looking towards. Recommend

  • Sajid Mumtaz Khan
    Jan 27, 2011 - 12:11PM

    It hurts to realize that after viewing such high handedness & lawlessness common man on the street is becoming self motivated evade law whether on road or other wise. The fabric of our society is being tattered for gains of individuals & there is no one to stop them. As person who are to protect the interest of Public are the main offenders Recommend

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