Pakistan News

Dissident PTI MNA denies role in controversial land lease

Dissident PTI MNA denies role in controversial land lease

PESHAWAR: Dissident PTI MNA and former senior member of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Board of Revenue Gulzar Khan on Wednesday denied involvement in the leasing out of 6,000 kanals of state land in Dera Ismail Khan for 10 years to the alleged associates of former chief minister Akram Durrani.

Gulzar Khan told a news conference here that the National Accountability Bureau recently called him for responding to some queries about the land lease and therefore, he shared with the NAB all information he had about it.

He said he served as member of the provincial Board of Revenue when the DI Khan state land was leased out in September 2006 but he did nothing wrong and strictly followed the advice of the agriculture department in line with the lease policy.

The MNA said it was the agricultural land and he did not know the people, who had applied for acquiring it but the entire process was already completed by the district lease committee, comprising collector, district revenue officer, district agriculture officer and local nazim.

He said the lease was not unprecedented as there were many examples about leasing state land to many people in the area including some high ranking government officers as well.

Gulzar Khan said the land in question was purely agricultural and the process was completed by the district lease committee as there was no need for convening the provincial lease committee.

Distributing relevant documents to journalists, he rejected the allegation that he had leased out the land to the people close to then chief minister Akram Durrani or JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, saying it was not a crime if any of the lessees was related to JUI-F leaders.

“I don’t know any of the beneficiaries,” he said.

While referring to the report of a fact-finding inquiry by the Board of Revenue member, the MNA said the then agriculture secretary had second thoughts 37 days after the grant of the lease and wrote a letter to him requesting cancelation of the lease saying the land was meant for seed production.

He said the Board of Revenue also submitted a brief note to the provincial chief secretary on the matter and the chief secretary too held the district officers of the agriculture department responsible for failure to safeguard the interest of the department.

“The chief secretary had ordered immediate disciplinary action against the relevant officers,” he said.

Gulzar Khan said on the chief secretary’s directives, the agriculture department had initiated an inquiry against the relevant officers, while the Board of Revenue went for cancellation of the lease and that efforts were made to get back the land.

He expressed reservations about the NAB claim that the lease caused Rs53.5 million loss to the kitty and said the estimate was incorrect.

“The loss is estimated on basis of sugarcane cultivation, while the land could grow maize only. The money shown in the record was due to the cutting of trees and sale of agricultural machinery,” he said.

The MNA said the profit shown in the record was just assumption. He said he was ready to face action and even step down as MNA if anyone proved his involvement in corrupt practices.

Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2015

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