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Housing societies in capital occupying state land worth Rs4.6 billion

Housing societies in capital occupying state land worth Rs4.6 billion

ISLAMABAD: The otherwise powerful Capital Development Authority (CDA) is unable to retrieve its land worth over Rs4.6 billion, from the ‘illegal possession’ of private housing societies in the Kurri village and Sector E-11, an audit report on the accounts of the civic agency has revealed.

The CDA, which recently evicted several government departments from residential areas, failed to retrieve its 200 kanals from Bahria Enclave and other private housing societies. The audit report, which the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is likely to take up on Wednesday, claimed that the CDA did not comply with the directions of the departmental accounts committee (DAC), which included officers of the Auditor General of Pakistan and the Cabinet Division. In 2013, the committee had directed the civic agency “to initiate criminal proceedings against illegal owners…besides taking all possible actions for retrieval of the land”.

According to the audit report, Bahria Enclave alone encroached on 1,542 kanals worth Rs2.3 billion. Bahria Enclave is a housing scheme of Bahria Town which was launched in July 2011, a day after the CDA launched its own housing project - Park Enclave - in the same vicinity. Bahria Enclave offered plots at comparatively lower rates compared to the Park Enclave. This was the reason the CDA housing scheme could not attract investors.

The report said: “CDA acquired land in Kurri in 1968. The staff of the revenue section came up with a report on May 28, 2013, that the CDA land measuring 1,342 kanals, 11 marlas in the village had been encroached upon by Bahria Enclave.”

The report stated: “The housing scheme also constructed a road on the CDA land measuring 200 kanals.” The land is still under the unauthorised possession of Bahria Enclave as per the imagery of the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission.

The auditors also cited another report prepared by a CDA tehsildar which confirmed that over 1,500 kanals of land located in 85 Khasras had been encroached by the private housing society.

On November 7, 2012, the CDA director enforcement issued the last notice to Bahria Enclave, asking it to vacate the land within seven days. However, after the expiry of the deadline, no action was taken to retrieve the land, causing a loss of Rs2.3 billion to the national exchequer.

In its comments, the office of the auditor general said the occupation of the state land by Bahria Enclave was a serious violation of the CDA municipal by-laws and showed the inefficiency of the city managers.

The report recommended to the PAC that since the CDA had failed to protect its interest, the “PAC may like to direct the Principal Accounting Officer (PAO), which is the secretary Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD), to implement the DAC directives for initiating criminal proceedings against the encroachers and taking possession of the land”.

Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, a legal adviser to Bahria Town’s founder Malik Riaz Hussain, when contacted, told Dawn that Bahria Enclave never encroached upon even a single marla of the CDA. He said the housing scheme purchased land from private owners and compensated them in accordance with the market price of their land. “If the CDA or any other organisation claims that any piece of land has ever been encroached upon, it should substantiate the claim with solid evidence,” he added.

The report said a number of housing societies in E-11 had also encroached on 458 kanals of land worth Rs2.3 billion.

The director housing societies and the planning wing of the CDA in 2007 transferred 2,605 kanals to various societies in Sector E-11 whereas the societies collectively got possession of 3,063 kanals as recorded in the minutes of a meeting held on June 12, 2007.

The housing societies encroached upon 458 kanals owned by the CDA. “The record of CDA is silent about the retrieval of the land from the housing societies,” added the audit report.

The report suggested to the PAC to issue directions to initiate criminal proceedings against those responsible in the CDA and to retrieve the land from the land grabbers.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2016

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