The law ministry has approved a controversial land deal between the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the Pakistan Golf Federation (PGF), under which 150 acres near Shakarparian have been leased out to the federation for 99 years at a throwaway price of Rs41 per square yard, a source told Dawn on Sunday.

Following the vetting of the “deal” by the law ministry, the CDA would issue a formal allotment letter in a week to the federation being patronised by ISI director-general.

“We do not know why the law ministry has involved itself in the matter, but now the ministry”s approval has given a legal cover to the deal so that it cannot be described as illegal at any forum,” a senior official of the authority said.

The sources said there was no provision in the master plan of Islamabad to establish the second gold club in the same area, but even then the land deal had been approved by the federal cabinet, the CDA Board and now by the law ministry.

In a statement, CDA Chairman Kamran Lashari had said Islamabad”s Master Plan had provided for a golf club in this very area.

Land is being given to the PGF under clause 7(6) of Land Disposal Regulation-2005, which gives the cabinet special powers to allot a piece of land for any social or recreational project, he said.

When contacted, PGF Secretary Taimoor Hassan was reluctant to give details about latest development in the golf club project which would be run on commercial basis. He said: “The project is still where it was some eight months ago.”

However, he said the new club would not be “a money-making venture as it was being established for golfers belonging to middle and low income groups”.

“We would establish a golf academy and a driving range in the first phase. Training would be imparted to the young players and new comers in the academy,” he said.

The PGF recently selected 10 young golf players from the four provinces who receive monthly stipend of Rs5,000 each.

According to the PGF office-bearer, the federation got 150 acres on the same terms and conditions on which the Islamabad Golf Club had been leased its land some 40 years ago.

It has been learnt that the CDA could have earned billions of rupees if the land had been auctioned for any other commercial venture. Recently, the authority had auctioned six acres in front of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences at the rate of Rs250,000 per square yards, and fetched Rs6.5 billion.

It means that the CDA has suffered a loss of Rs150 billion by auctioning the prime land for establishing the fourth golf club in the twin cities. Two of these clubs are located at PAF Complex and near Ayub National Park, Rawalpindi.

It may be mentioned here that Asif Ali Zardari, spouse of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, also wanted to purchase land in the same area at the then market price for establishing a five-star hotel, but failed to do so after Ms Bhutto”s government was dismissed.

Sources said there was no need to establish a new golf club in Islamabad when three already existed in the twin cities — the Islamabad Golf Club, the PAF Golf Club and the Army Golf Club — with a total membership of just 1,400.

Now the three clubs stand to lose their members to the modern facilities and prestige the new club promises.

It has been learnt that the PGF is inviting the US and the Australian firms to build the new golf club.

Source: The Dawn