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Lahore: Mafia in Dept of Public Facilities unearthed

LAHORE: The City District Government Lahore (CDGL) has busted a mafia of public officials and contractors, who allegedly made billions of rupees through corruption in the Department of Public Facilities over the last two decades.

CDGL officials, including the district coordination officer and the district officer (public facilities) are in the process of compiling facts and figures to write to the Punjab chief secretary, asking him to launch a high-level inquiry into what is being seen as one of the biggest frauds in the history of the district government.

The mafia, led by five tax collectors (public employees equivalent to a clerk), were deputed to collect taxes in contract money from contractors at parking stands, public toilets and other public facilities.

The Department of Public Facilities has managed to collect over Rs 30 million since curbing the mafia, as compared to some Rs 0.25 million earlier.

An initial inquiry by CDGL has revealed that the mafia illegally occupied public places, and was running private businesses there. The mafia also developed a partnership with the contractors who managed to get legal contracts of different CDGL projects. As a result of this partnership, the contractors started overcharging the public and receiving fees in excess of those approved by CDGL.

“They had occupied more than 40 public places, which were shown in official documents as having collapsed and become dysfunctional. They also had a partnership with the private contractors who were managing parking lots on public land, and they used to not only let the contractors overcharge the public, but also allowed them to print fake parking tickets showing increased rates,” a CDGL official told Daily Times.

The official said the district government had started taking action against illegal parking lots in different parts of the city. “The operation was started under the supervision of the Lahore district coordination officer to curb illegal parking stands, and control the parking rates. However, we soon realised that a number of public facilities, which were shown as being no longer functional, were actually still being operated,” he said.

He said the mafia had been in business for over 20 years, and had become so powerful that the officials involved started to issue contracts on their own, and awarded the contracts to people already in their loop.

The CDGL has taken control of 23 ‘dysfunctional’ parking lots from the mafia’s control.

These people had also occupied the public land allocated for 41 public toilets in different parts of the city, and were using most of them for other businesses by claiming that they were all in shabby and useless condition.

District Officer (Public Facilities) Afraz Ahmad told Daily Times a number of corruption inquiries against these five officials were being conducted by different departments, including the National Accountability Bureau and the Anti-Corruption Establishment.

“We are still collecting data about these people’s misconduct. We could get to know about a few inquiries worth more than Rs 130 million in different departments. We are preparing files against those involved, and it sound like one of the biggest corruption cases in the history of CDGL. We will urge the chief secretary at a later date to take proper action against them,” he stated.

The district officer said the tax collectors were identified as Arif, Jamil, Hafeez, Yasir and Imran. He said they had looted both the public and the government for two decades, and had reportedly earned hundreds of millions of rupees.

He said these tax collectors had prompted disruption of proceedings at the bidding of contracts on June 1, and were urging private contractors previously working with them to launch a strike against the government. He said the inquiry would also try to identify which CDGL officials collaborated with the corrupt collectors, and they would also be punished.

Source: Daily Times

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