LAHORE: Like many other snail-paced works being carried out during the past many years, one of the prestigious housing schemes of the Lahore Development Authority “Avenue-I” that was planned to reduce acute residential problem of government employees who deposited an amount of Rs 6.92 billion, has been in a state of neglect for six years.
Comprised of 17,000 kanals and situated along with multi-billion residential schemes on Raiwind Road, the scheme has still not gone even half-way through its developmental works despite passage of twice as much time period as was planned.
A survey of the scheme by APP along with retired government employees found that even water supply and sewerage systems have not been completed so far.
The scheme is yet to have a grid station for power supply. Work on roads and footpaths is still not finished. For gas supply, only main pipes have been laid.
Government employees, especially the retired ones, living in rented properties, have been running from pillar to post to get possession of the plots allotted to them.
They feel more helpless in view of the fact that the contract of development works for the scheme had been awarded to Frontiers Works Organization (FWO) through the backdoor and nobody, not even the LDA’s high-ups dare ask the FWO for the undue delay in carrying out the job.
Mian Amir Mahmood, the sitting Nazim of Lahore and Chairman, LDA, who is rated by the public to have performed very poor during his two terms, got feverish at the prospect of a democratically elected new Punjab government taking over within days, has ordered at the end of the day to carry out the work expeditiously.
The office of the LDA’s chief engineer, who was not available when contacted, confirmed that about 40 percent of the development work had been completed so far.
Syed Javed Iqbal, the Director, Estate Management, LDA Scheme, Avenue-I, told APP that LDA would start giving possession to those who got allotment orders from September,2008. He had no details available regarding LDA’s litigation with other residential colonies which had been in a court of law since LDA’s takeover of the land.
However, he confirmed that there was dispute over about 2,000 plots in the scheme. People with allotment orders complain that LDA had also received development charges from them. “We were told after depositing the amount that our plots were under litigation”, said Naeem who is one of the affected persons.
The LDA scheme, Avenue-I, had been launched in 2002 in order to partially overcome the residential problem of government employees. The LDA planned 5,000 one-kanal plots and 6,000 ten-marla plots. Each allotee of one kanal deposited Rs 864,000 and each allotee of 10-marla deposited Rs 432,000 at least five years back. A total amount of Rs 6.92 billion was deposited with LDA which has been earning a mark-up rather than making payments for the completion of works.
Inside sources told APP that the completion work of the scheme was deliberately lingered on so that land mafia is able to fleece public due to acute residential problem. Files of allotment orders are already said to have changed many hands, keeping the real estate business hot and high.
Many of the affected persons approached Mian Shahbaz Sharif, who is expected to take over the new government. Former chief minister, who will be holding the reins of the province soon, has warned that he would get people rid of ‘qabza groups’ as soon as the new government is installed.