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Failure to pay: Civic agency owing billions to land owners

ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) questioned the Capital Development Authority (CDA) officials for not settling the claims of land owners, who were affected by development work in eight new sectors. In a meeting on Monday, the NA body directed the CDA to return Rs35 billion to these land owners.

The committee took serious notice of irregularities in the issuance of 1,200 allotment letters in Kurri Model Village and asked the Establishment Division to conduct a thorough inquiry into the matter. The issue of 20,000 acres of CDA’s land encroached by locals was also discussed.

Earlier, officials of the civic body had not given complete information to PAC about the land in Malpur village. The Supreme Court then took a suo motu notice prompted by a letter from Imran Khan, Chairperson of Tehrik-i-Insaf. CDA revealed that a piece of its acquired land in Malpur was under the occupation of Senator Nayyar Hussain Bokhari among others.

CDA Chairman Imtiaz Inayat Elahi further explained that the civic agency had bought 5,000 acres of land in Malpur village, of which 2,000 acres still remained under the occupation of locals. He revealed that the CDA acquired 70,500 acres of land in 1960 but so far had managed to take possession of only 50,000, adding that 20,000 acres worth billions of rupees was either encroached upon or was still not fully acquired.

Chairperson of PAC, Chaudhry Nisar, observed that, although the CDA’s hidden matters were exposed in the courts, the authority was not very keen to settle the issues accordingly and, instead, stayed busy in appeasing influential individuals.

The committee directed the civic body to withdraw its possession of land if it could not pay land owners’ dues or develop the new sectors through private-public partnership.

CDA had acquired land for eight different sectors, including sector I-16, I-17, D-14 and D-15, worth Rs35 billion about eight years ago, but was unable to pay a single rupee to the actual owners due to shortage of funds.

CDA’s earlier request to the Finance Division and Cabinet Secretariat to release Rs35 billion for the payment of land owners was not approved.
Elahi said that the civic agency had sent another summary of its land acquisition to the Finance Division in December 2010 but no response came from that side. “If the amount is not released to the CDA then it will not be able to take possession of the land for long,” he said.
He said public-private partnerships could help to avoid de-notification or withdrawal for the land, but no one was ready to invest on such a large scale.

Source: Express Tribune

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