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April 28, 2013

KPT, PQA sold land worth Rs88 bn to DHA for only Rs15m

April 28, 2013


KARACHI: The Supreme Court (SC) during the hearing of the suo moto notice on the Karachi law and order case, came across the biggest land scam in the history of Pakistan.
It was discovered that the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) and Port Qasim Authority (PQA) sold 1,600 acres of precious land on the Karachi coast to the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) at the rate of Rs2 and Rs2.5 per square metre.
The Sindh government claimed ownership of the land and said that both the federal institutions had no right to dispose of the land. The Sindh government, which did not receive a single penny in the bargain, came to realise this scam when the SC asked questions about the land and sought explanation as to why the KPT and PQA disposed of the said land. This helped many Sindh government departments, particularly the custodian of state lands, i.e. the Board of Revenue, to set a historic and ignoble record of incompetence. The land is worth not billions but trillions of rupees. Both the federal institutions received a sum of a mere Rs15 million as the price of the 1,600 acres of land. With this paltry amount, it is difficult to purchase even a 500 square yards plot in DHA.
The land was disposed of in 2003 and 2005. If calculated at the rate of Rs10,000 per sq yard the minimum price prevalent at that time, 8,826,280 square yards (1,600 acres) of land could fetch more than Rs88 billion. Now this land is worth trillions of rupees. It may be kept in view that the SC, while hearing the suo moto case No 2011/16, especially concentrated on the issue of the occupation of the land of the Sindh government and occasionally asked the Sindh government to furnish details of the land which had been allotted in ten years, or which had been grabbed by different institutions, persons, groups unlawfully. In this respect, the SC issued a number of orders too.
On April 14, 2013 the SC passed an order that it should be explained under what law the KPT and PQA disposed of this land. This

scandal had sprung up after the SC order.
The case has been fixed for the next hearing on May 5, 2013 when the Sindh government, KPT and PQA will submit their explanations. It is expected that many eye-opening secrets will be unravelled during this hearing.
To take stock of the situation after the SC orders, a meeting was held in the office of Deputy Commissioner (South). The representatives of KPT and PQA did not bother to attend the meeting although they were invited. Director Military Land, Defence Housing Authority, told the meeting that DHA purchased 881 acres of land from KPT. On this land, Phase 8, Phase 7 (Extension), and Phase 6 of DHA have been developed.
It was further revealed that DHA purchased 736 acres from the PQA on which part of Phase 8 and Phase 8-E has been established. Some land has been reserved for waterfront development, whereas 282 acres of land was purchased from the Sindh government. It was decided in the meeting that the KPT and PQA would be asked under which law they leased out this land for 99 years.
The documents presented in the meeting have captured the imagination of legal and constitutional experts. The land given to DHA has neither been classified, nor is there any mention of it in the Sindh land record for the reason that this land has been reclaimed from the sea. The surprising thing is that the registry of both the lease-deed documents was done by the concerned sub-registrar, whereas the sub-registrars are employees of the revenue department. For the transfer of this land, they did not bother to check that there is no NoC from any office of the Board of Revenue nor is there any record of these pieces of land in the Board of Revenue. The registry of one deed is passed by the sub-registrar Kemari Town, while the other deed is signed by the sub-registrar, sub-division of T Division.
The SC has sought explanations from both the federal institutions under what law they sold the land. In the lease deed, the PQA has referred to the gazette notification No PD: 1973/2/1, dated 31 May 1974 (issued on June 21 1974). According to this notification, the federal Ministry of Ports and Shipping transferred the land within 50 yards of the high water so that it could manage the affairs of the port in a better manner. Nowhere in this notification was it written that the PQA could sell this land for commercial purposes.
How can the affairs of the port the managed properly after selling the land to DHA is a big question. How can the KPT organise its affairs in a better way by selling its land to the DHA?
The KPT has nowhere mentioned under which law it claims to be the owner of the land. In the lease deed, a clause has been added that 3 percent of the 881 acres of KPT land (i.e. 127,900 square yards) will be given to DHA and 324 plots of around 400 sq yards each will be allotted to KPT officers and the names of the officers were to be given by the KPT administration. As per the lease deed these plots have been handed over to KPT officers. What have government earned out of this deal? How far have the affairs of KPT improved through this sale? It is believed that people in PQA too have taken the plots.
How much more would the bigwigs of KPT and PQA have earned selling the land at throwaway prices? The SC can order an investigation into this aspect too.
It should be kept in mind that the KPT sold the land to DHA at the rate of Rs2.50 per square yard and received only a paltry amount of Rs8.9 million. This lease was registered on August 2 2003. In other words, 356,606 square yards of land was sold for Rs8.913 million. At that time, if the land had been sold at Rs10,000 per square yard, it would have fetched Rs42.46 billion. Similarly, PQA sold to DHA 736 acres of land at the rate of Rs2 per square yard and received Rs7 million. This lease was completed on August 21 2003. This land if calculated at the rate of Rs10,000 per square yard, would have fetched Rs35.62 billion. In these areas, some plots are fetching a price of Rs1 million per square yard while in fact they were all sold for Rs15 million. Thus land worth trillions was sold for a song.
On the other hand, the Sindh government will file a petition in the SC that the KPT and PQA sold the land unlawfully, as the land the sea leaves behind is the property of the Sindh government in accordance with the provisions of Article 172 of the Constitution and Article 50 of the Sindh Land Revenue Act.
Sources in the Sindh government have confided to this correspondent that they would pray to the Supreme Court to order legal proceedings against the administration of the KPT and PQA and the officers of the Revenue Department, Sindh who were responsible, so that those who have pocketed billions through shady means could be brought to book.




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