NAB prepared case against illegal land allotment to Bahria Town

KARACHI: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has prepared a reference against 28 main accused involved in illegal land allotment to Bahria Town for the housing project.

Former Sindh chief minister Qaim Ali Shah and former minister for local government Sharjeel Memon besides 18 government officials have been nominated in the reference, according to NAB officials. Other accused nominated in the reference are Bahria Group Chairman Malik Riaz, his two sons Ahmad Riaz and Zain Riaz, illegal allottees Faisal Sarwar, Muhammad Awais, Waseem Riffat, Shahid Massod and Waqas Riffat, officials of Malir Development Authority (MDA), Sindh Board of Revenue, former director general Manzoor Ahmad, Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) retired DG Agha Maqsood Abbas and Saqib Ahmad Soomro, former administrator Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC).

The NAB raided offices of MDA on November 26 and found what it called an ‘important document’ against Bahria Town. The MDA is accused of illegally transferring government land to Bahria Town on Karachi’s Super Highway.

In an earlier raid, a team of NAB had seized some documents from Bahria Town office on Super Highway in Karachi. The accountability watchdog has already recorded statements of six MDA officials in connection with the case.

A NAB spokesperson declined to comment on the raid and said details would be shared with the media soon.

NAB Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal had ordered filing of a reference on the directives of the Supreme Court. The case was investigated by NAB Karachi from April to July 2017. The findings exposed illegal adjustment, exchange and consolidation of thousands of acres of un-allotted state land in multiple dehs of district Malir for the purpose of development of Bahria Town project. In addition, misuse of authority by relevant offices of revenue department, MDA, SBCA and others was also established.

The SBCA had notified the general public regarding project of Bahria Town Karachi situated in Sector No 117 under MDA master programme (scheme-1, phase-1), Malir District, that the authority had issued NOC for sale and advertisement of open plot in favour of Bahria Town only in relation to land measuring 1330-734 acres vide letter no SBCA/DD-II/1090/ADV-606/2014, March 20, 2014, on basis of a layout plan approved by MDA vide letter MDA/MPD/DEH.272/2014/802, March 20, 2014. It said the details of sale and advertisement were available at SBCA’s website and had also been published in a daily on April 6, 2014.

Officials of the MDA revenue department misused their authority by handing over possession of approximately 7,220 acres un-allotted state land situated on the Super Highway to Bahria Town through their five employees, relatives of the CEO and the chairman.

The second executive board meeting of NAB Karachi after engaging Survey of Pakistan and SUPARCO obtained fresh joint survey demarcation of land under Bahria Town. The demarcation report of Survey of Pakistan dated July 20, 2016, revealed that Bahria Town was actually in possession of 12,156 acres of land in total. The difference in area was due to fact that Bahria Town on their own had taken illegal possession of adjoining private and state land to expand their project illegally.

The actual market cost of the land was estimated to Rs 27,023 billion whereas land was allotted putting aside all formalities and without competent authority.

The 12,156 acres of land for Bahria Town project on Super Highway was allotted in 2014-2015. The Bahria Town collected an amount of Rs 215 billion from the general public till September 2017 on account of registration fees, quarterly payments, etc, for plots and homes to be developed on the said land.

Furthermore, pursuant to Supreme Court order on June 26, 2018, through CMA-5590/2018, proposals have been made for appropriate order in light of the offers made by Malik Riaz. A three-member bench of the apex court had barred Bahria Town from collecting more installments from the allottees. The court had also ordered Bahria Town to halt the construction work.

During the proceedings before the apex court in petition no 38 of 2016 had revealed that construction, sale and development activities being carried out by Bahira Town Karachi had been beyond parameters of the mentioned NOC issued by SBCA and the layout plan approved by MDA and multiple bungalows and multi story buildings were under construction without obtaining requisite approvals from the SBCA.

It is also significant to mention here that the Supreme Court in its order January 14, 2018, passed in constitutional petition no 38 of 2016, had imposed a restriction upon builders to not carry out construction beyond six floors (except parking floors). The aforesaid restriction also applies to Bahria Town Karachi through order dated September 1, 2018, passed by the Supreme Court in original petition no 12-K of 2018. However, Bahria Town Karachi in complete violation of order was carrying out construction beyond six floors.

Moreover, vide judgment dated May 4, 2018, passed in sou motu case no 38 of 2011, the top court had upheld the dismissal of review petition filed by Bahria Town and directed all allotees to deposit their outstanding installment charges in a separate special account opened by additional registrar of Karachi registry of the Supreme Court. The verdict had also held that all subject land would go back to MDA, with Bahria Town getting back the land it gave in exchange to the MDA. The MDA would also be liable to pay amount received from Bahria Town against the land.