LAHORE, Dec 7: The Lahore Development Authority`s commercialisation wing on Wednesday sealed a residence in Johar Town for being used commercially allegedly by the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) additional director general (ADG).
ADG Hafiz Muhammad Ehsanul Haq, when contacted, denied the charges and termed it an action in return from those whom he had held responsible for a plaza demolition in Board of Revenue Society in Johar Town. The incident had claimed lives of four construction workers and caused injuries to several others a few months ago.
He said the officials of LDA commercial wing, headed by the Town Planning Department, neither served any notice nor heard his family members prior to sealing the residence.
Sources said a team, headed by LDA Director (commercial) Faheem Chaudhry, on Wednesday afternoon raided house No 445/G-4 situated at Doctors` Hospital Road and sealed its ground floor for being rented out to a beauty parlour without getting it commercialised by Mr Ehsan`s wife. The team sealed the house within 20 minutes and ordered the owner to get her house commercialised within the next few days, they said.
The sources said the action to seal the house was taken on the orders of LDA director-general when someone pointed out commercial use of various houses and buildings by senior LDA officials without getting their properties commercialised. “Though Mr Ehsan enjoys good reputation by virtue of his honesty in LDA, the action against him seems to be very surprising,” an official requesting anonymity told this reporter.
He said most of the officials believed that the action was a joint bid by some senior officials whom the ADG had held responsible in the plaza demolition departmental inquiry a few months back.
The ADG said the LDA had allotted him one-kanal plot No-445/G-4 in 1990 and he started construction work in 2001. In 2002 after getting the structure erected, he got completion certificate from the LDA as per rules. “I could not complete other works such as sewerage, electrification, paints etc. due to lack of money. Finally I succeeded completing these works in 2005 and shifted to my house the same year.”
He said in 2006, he rented out the ground floor of his house to a family that stayed there till December 2008. Mr Ehsan said before he started construction of his house, the LDA had declared Doctors` Hospital Road as commercial for some time, but it withdrew its decision after some months. “From January 2009 to March 2011, I didn`t rent out my house. In April, 2011, I rented out the ground floor of the house (which I had already gifted to my wife Mrs Tasneem Ehsaan at the start of January 2011) to Nikkis Beauty Parlour for Rs37,000 per month.”
He said at the time of giving the house on rent to the parlour, there was a ban imposed by the LDA management on the commercialisation of new buildings in various city areas. “Despite the ban, I paid property tax worth Rs40,000 each for fiscal year 2010-11 and 2011-12 so that no one could raise any question.”
He said the LDA announced its new commercialisation policy in July 2011 by declaring the aforementioned road as commercial. Ehsan said as he didn`t have Rs2.6 million to get this house commercialised, he was thinking to pay this amount to LDA in installments by getting the necessary documents completed.
“Being a senior official I have conducted several inquiries against the officials on merit. In a recent inquiry I held around 25 senior and junior officials including Chief Town Planner Chaudhry Akram guilty in plaza demolition case. Most of the senior officials, particularly Mr Akram, were against me and wanted to trap me. And finally they dragged me in this case by not only sealing the house but also displaying a banner inscribed with words `Sealed Property`.”
When contacted, LDA Chief Town Planner Chaudhry Akram avoided comment on the issue. “I am neither against the ADG nor any other. I don`t know about this development and you should talk to my director (commercial).”
Director (Commercial) Faheem Chaudhry said the team had visited the site and sealed the property because its owners didn`t pay the commercialisation fee. “We didn`t know the residence was owned by our ADG. Later we came to know and we sealed it as per orders,” he said.