Shady land purchase deal comes under Senators’ scrutiny

Bhara Kahu Housing Scheme

Zubair Qureshi

The Sub Committee of the Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday raised questions on purchase of land for Bhara Kahu Housing Scheme at exorbitant rates and directed National Accountability Bureau(NAB) to conduct inquiry into the alleged embezzlement and irregularities during the process of purchase of land and submit a detailed report by April 2, 2017.
The sub-committee of the Public Accounts committee discussed in detail the alleged irregularities in the process of procurement of land for phase (I) and phase (II) of the BharaKahu housing scheme of the Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation (FGEHF). Senator Azam Khan Sawati informed the Sub-Committee that the 20,000 kanals of land was purchased at exorbitant rates while the actual price of the land in that area was not more than Rs300,000 to Rs400,000.
The federal government employees were charged Rs400,000 per kanal. Officials of the FGEHF informed that the ministry had proposed Rs800,000 per kanal, however, the FGEHF did not agree to it and Rs400,000 were fixed as price. Regarding phase II the Minister had given a statement in the Senate that process is being initiated for the procurement of 20,000 kanals of land at a price of Rs800,000 per kanal. Previously, the land was purchased at Rs 950,000 and the land for phase II is being purchased at Rs800,000. Senator Azam Khan Sawati at that time had raised it through a supplementary question that the price of land was not more than Rs300,000 to Rs400,000 and the reply of the FGEHF had endorsed the stance adopted by Senator Azam Sawati.
The Sub Committee appreciated the efforts of Senator Azam Sawati and observed that nearly Rs8 billion have been saved and the federal government employees would get a relief.
It is pertinent to mention here that in reply to a question asked by Senator Ahmed Hassan in the Senate it was informed that 32,00 kanals of land in phase I was purchased in 2009 at the cost of Rs 950,000 per kanal.
Auditor General also agreed with the views of Senator Azam Sawati and said that the land for phase I was also purchased at exorbitant rates. The actual price of land, the Auditor General said, in phase I was Rs100,000 at that time.
The sub-committee expressed its surprise over the process of purchase of land and directed NAB to look into the matter and submit a detailed report till April 2, 2017.
The meeting was attended by MNAs Shahida Akhtar Ali and Dr Arif Alvi besides senior officials of the Ministry, Auditor General and attached departments.

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