Monday July 22, 2024

‘PTI’s KP govt leased out Galyat rest houses at throwaway rates’

Documents show Imran Khan’s ex-principal secretary Azam Khan played the main role in the scandal

By Saleem Safi
June 25, 2023
Patriata Forest rest house.—The News
Patriata Forest rest house.—The News 

ISLAMABAD: The rest houses of Galyat were leased out to favourites of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at throwaway prices, causing losses of billions of rupees to the national exchequer, it has been learnt.

As per documents available with Geo News, government rest houses and buildings in the tourist site of Galyat were first transferred to the tourism department from the Galyat Development Authority in 2015 when Azam Khan, a blue-eyed bureaucrat of former prime minister Imran Khan, was serving as the tourism secretary.

Later, those rest houses and buildings were leased out to relatives of the then KP chief minister, close aides to Khan and other favourites of the PTI at very low rates after bypassing the department’s board.

The rest houses were leased at very low prices instead of their market value and even the DC’s rates were ignored.The documents show that two rest houses — Retreat House Nathia Gali, which comprises 13 kanals and 6 marlas, and Vindia Cottage, which is spread over 3 kanals and 6 marlas — were leased out to one Inzamamul Haq against Rs3.3 million and Rs1 million per year respectively, but the respective market value of these rest houses was Rs665 million and Rs165 million.

The Additional Cottage, Secretariat Cottage and Raees Khana Nathia Gali were leased out to IV Tours for a period of five years and later the lease was extended to 15 years.

Besides, Grey Café was established in 2020 in violation of the agreement by illegally demolishing two garages on an 8-marla space.

The Secretariat Cottage was leased out for Rs1 million annually, whereas its market value was Rs105 million.

The Raees Khana whose market value was Rs558 million was leased out against Rs200,000 per year.

In order to benefit private parties in the agreement, a clause was added that in case of cancellation of the agreement, the GDA would refund the entire contract fee and pay the construction expenses if any construction was raised by the contractor.

According to the documents, the 8-kanal Forest Rest House in Thandiani was leased out at Rs2.1 million per year against the market value of Rs232 million, while the a 2-kanal rest house in Barian was leased out at Rs1.6 million against the market rate of Rs76 million.

The C&W Rest House in Thandiani, whose area is 6 kanals and 13 marlas, was leased out at Rs1.5 million against the market rate of Rs186 million.

Bidding laws were completely ignored in the agreements, and according to reports, details of those agreements were also not presented before the board for approval. The terms of reference were also changed to benefit the contractors.

The persons who benefited from this scandal included a close aide to Khan and a relative of the then KP chief minister. Later, lease holders of these properties not only changed the map of Galyat in violation of the Galyat rules, but several forest lands were also converted into buildings.

It is unfortunate that neither the previous nor the present National Accountability Bureau took cognisance of the scandal and issued any call-up notices to the persons involved in the scandal.