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SC bars work on Bahria Town land allotted by Malir Development Authority

SC bars work on Bahria Town land allotted by Malir Development Authority

KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Monday restrained Bahria Town, a leading real estate firm, from undertaking any development activity on the state land allotted to it by the Malir Development Authority (MDA) illegally and gave two months to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to complete its investigation into the matter.

A two-judge bench comprising Justices Amir Hani Muslim and Mushir Alam gave these directions at the court’s Karachi Registry while hearing a set of applications against illegal allotment of state land and adjustment of land in 43 Dehs by the MDA.

The land in question involves the under-construction Bahria Town project located about nine kilometres from Toll Plaza on the Karachi-Hyderabad super highway

The NAB prosecutor general filed an interim report in a sealed envelope along with a copy of the survey report prepared by the Directorate of Survey of Pakistan, Ministry of Defence, which was taken on record.

According to the survey report, the total land consolidated by the MDA and handed over to Bahria Town measured 9,385.185 acres.

In the survey report, the portion marked in pink as “A” showed that Bahira Town had developed 386.276 acres of land which was not yet consolidated by the MDA.

The survey report also showed some other portions of state land that had been developed by Bahria Town despite the fact that they had not been consolidated by the MDA.

The total land developed/under development but not consolidated by the MDA came to make 2,771.79 acres.

The bench inquired of the chief secretary, senior member, Board of Revenue, and the advocate general of Sindh to satisfy it under which law the MDA was competent to exchange private land with the land falling in the area reserved as corridor. The three officials, however, could not offer any explanation and submitted that no such powers were available with the MDA to allot or exchange the private land with the state land.

The bench observed that it had come on record that no portion of the land pertaining to the subject matter was ever allotted under Section 10(4) of the Colonisation of Government Lands Act, 1894, by the Sindh government to the MDA.

The bench restrained the Bahria Town from undertaking any development activity in areas demarcated in the survey report.

The MDA was also restrained from consolidating any further portion of the private land for the Bahria Town or any other private enterprise under the garb of exchange of land in exercise of their powers conferred on them under the MDA Act or the rules framed thereunder.

The bench also restricted the Board of Revenue from dealing with the land of the MDA or any other Authority which was the subject matter of these proceedings in any manner whatsoever.

“In order to ensure that no further construction or development activity is carried out on the land specified hereinabove, we direct the NAB authorities through the Prosecutor General that they should immediately if possible by tomorrow obtain Google Earth maps/images of the entire land stated to be in possession of the Bahria Town as per the survey report and submit the same for record,” the court ordered.

Meanwhile, the chief of Bahria Town Malik Riaz Hussain claimed that the Supreme Court had not imposed any restriction on development of his projects. In his tweets, he called it “misreporting of facts” by the media and vowed to continue the development of the mighty project.

“Misreporting of facts regarding #BahriaTown #Karachi absolutely malicious. SC didn’t put any restrictions on develop work by #BahriaTown,” he said. “#BahriaTown ll [will] continue all construction & related activities on the consolidated land 9385 acre. Twisted facts r product of cynical minds. We ve [have] been facing ths [this] mafia from day one & will continue to do so to safeguard development & investment in Pakistan.”

Published in Dawn, August 2nd, 2016

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