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Land acquisition: PAC expresses resentment over CDA's inefficiency

ISLAMABAD (January 18, 2011) : National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee expressed resentment over systemic failure on the part of Capital Development Authority (CDA), which gave room to land mafia to claim double awards of billions of rupee from the authority. Chairman CDA, Imtiaz Inayat Elahi informed the committee that it was the systemic fault of previous administrations of CDA, which allowed physical possession of land despite giving away award money in 1963 against its acquisition.

These settlers did not vacate the land at that time and continue expansion of residential areas till to date. He said almost 2,000 kanal of government land was occupied by the old settlers in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT). “We don’t have any other choice than to give award against their property built on CDA land”, he said, adding government directed not to use force against them in any case.

Chairman further explained that authority sent a summary to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani asking him to release funds for award of land again. “We will de-notify award for I-17 sector if we would not get Rs 35 billion from government”, he said. In his ruling, Chairman PAC Chaudhary Nisar Ali said new well thought rules would be formulated which empower CDA to retrieve government land from old settlers without using force or filling case in Supreme Court of Pakistan.

PAC also reopened the case of issuance of 1,200 allotment letters by Director Land CDA. The officer had set a record by issuing 500 allotment letters for residential plots on one single day and another 400 the next day, and remaining on the third day. The CDA had announced Model Village Kurri some time back and the land was acquired for setting up this Model Village for housing units each measuring 30×70 feet, to be allotted to the local people on priority from whom the CDA has acquired the land.

Chairman CDA said the allotment letter had been issued in haste during his departure to perform Hajj. When he returned to office after performing Hajj, he was told about the whole thing and I issued instant orders to stop any further allotments and to cancel those already made by him (Dr Waseem Shamshad).

He said the accused officer of DMG cadre, Director (Lands) Dr Waseem Shamshad issued the allotment letters and he kept the official seal at home for this purpose. He termed this a procedural violation of the CDA land by-laws. On inquiry from committee members, he said a primary inquiry was conducted against the accused officer in which a series of charges were framed against him and put him at the disposal of Establishment Division for action. “Those were most startling revelations for me when I was told that the director (land), has taken stacks of blank printed allotment letters to his home along with his official seal, the ink pad and even the embossing seal of the Authority which makes the document legally authentic and original,” the CDA chairman said.

Chairman PAC directed the secretary Cabinet Division that a top-level inquiry would be conducted into this scam in a very transparent manner to bring all the facts to fore with the names of all those behind these wrongdoings. Wasim Shamshad was also produced in PAC who denied the charges labeled against him. He said all the letters were issued by deputy director land not by him. He further explained his position but did not satisfy the committee’s members.

Finally, PAC said as the government’s committee has already been over viewing this case, PAC would not like to further intervene in the case. The committee also directed to remove the name of former Chairman Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) Shahzada Alam from the Exit control List as he was presented before the committee. Number of audit paras in connection with the Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA), were presented to the committee in September 2010, following which the chairman of the committee expressed deep concerns. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Chairman PAC took the serious notice over the issue of illegal appointments, moving against merit. He directed PTA officials to revise and to improve the rules and regulation in this regard to restrict out of merit appointments in the authority further.

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