KARACHI: The land mafia has occupied 700 acres belonging to the Sehwan Development Authority. Even after the lapse of five years, the government has yet to get the land evacuated.
This was revealed in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting on Tuesday. The participants of the meeting, chaired by Saleem Raza Jalbani, expressed surprise when they heard that even after the passage of 20 years, no mega-development scheme has been initiated by the authority on the 3,775 acres allotted for the purpose in 1995.
"We have developed some houses but the flood victims and others have occupied it," said the authority's project director, adding that they have approached the court and higher authorities in the provincial government, but no tangible results have come out thus far. "Since its inception, the authority has received only Rs1 million in 2012 and another Rs5 million recently," he said.
Members of the provincial watchdog took exception at the slow pace of development work initiated by all the development authorities, including Sehwan, Malir, Lyari, Larkana and Hyderabad. "Can you please give us an example of any development that falls within the domain of these authorities? Why have you failed to launch any successful scheme over there?" questioned one of the PAC members, Sardar Shah. The meeting grilled the accounts of these authorities for the year, 2008-9.
Audit director-general Siraj Mustafa Jokhio told the committee that hardly any development authority was following the rules and regulations prescribed by the finance department. He revealed that Rs5.8 billion were supposed to be recovered by the authorities from the allotees but they had only recovered Rs3.9 billion. "When approached, officials of the Lyari Development Authority said that they had recovered 64 per cent of the amount and will get the other dues soon," said the DG, adding that during the audit, it was discovered that the LDA had not been maintaining its accounts.
"It is mandatory for all the government offices to maintain their accounts. With transactions of billions of rupees, they have not given us a proper response on how the amount was utilised," he said.
For his part, the LDA DG said that recoveries from the allottee were in process. The PAC chairperson ordered to make a sub-committee comprising members of the provincial watchdog to investigate the matter.
The meeting was also informed about Rs7 million utilised by the Sehwan Development Authority DG without the supporting vouchers. "They paid this amount to suppliers and contractors through cheques but the supporting vouchers were not shown at the time of audit," said the Audit DG. The project director of the authority explained that they had now provided the all relevant documents, but the audit officials were quick to disprove their claims. "They have now given us this record, which is yet to be verified by us. How can we believe these vouchers are genuine?"
Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th, 2015.
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