Thursday June 20, 2024

CM’s inspection team discovers illegal allotments of 5,500 acres in Manghopir

By Imdad Soomro
June 05, 2024
This representational image of state land. — Geo Tv/File
This representational image of state land. — Geo Tv/File

The Chief Minister’s Inspection, Enquiries, and Implementation Team (CMIEIT) sent a summary report regarding a mega land fraud in one tehsil of Karachi to the Sindh chief minister for strict legal action against involved persons, cancelling all allotments, leases, and entries.

The summary report (a copy of which is available with The News) sent to CM by Shakeel Ahmad Mangnejo, chairman of CMIEIT, says state land measuring 5,500 acres worth one trillion to 2.5 trillion rupees had been illegally allotted to influential individuals, land mafia, and builders through forgery and alteration of official records only in one tehsil of Manghopir.

Following many public complaints, the task of conducting the inquiry was assigned to the Chief Minister’s Inspection Enquiries, and Implementation Team Department by former caretaker chief minister Justice (retd) Maqbool Baqar.

In pursuance of the directions of Baqar, an investigation team comprising CM Inspection Team Member Agha Aijaz Pathan, Section Officer Syed Amjad, and revenue members Shaukat Bhangwar and Supervising Tapedar Mir Barkat Talpar was formed to look into the land records of five districts of Karachi --- West, East, Korangi, Malir, and Keamari.

As per the summary report, the alleged illegal allotment of state land was done from 2012 to 2023, despite a ban on land allotment by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The apex court, seized with many petitions and suo moto proceedings, had restrained the Sindh government, Board of Revenue, and Sindh Land Utilisation Department from mutation, allotment, transfer, and or conversion of any state land or keeping any transaction or entry in the record of the rights.

The investigation team initiated its work and in its first phase determined that forgery was done on 5,500 acres valuing up to Rs2.5 trillion in some parts of Manghopir Tehsil of District West alone.

After completing the first phase, the CM inspection team is now conducting its investigation of the records of the land in the remaining districts of Malir, Keamari, East, and Korangi. The summary report has also pointed out the names of government officials, private individuals and other beneficiaries of the large-scale fraud recommended action against them.

Besides the main task of inquiry, the committee was also asked to investigate the illegal allotment of lands by the Land Utilisation Department in Karachi, the alleged fraudulent entries made by revenue officers in the record of rights to benefit private individuals, builders, and land mafia, the falsification of the revenue records and cases of destruction of records.

According to the summary, the records of the domiciles given illegally to Afghan nationals in return for heavy bribes are not available at the DC office and are missing.

The summary report indicates the role of revenue staff, staff of the Deputy Commissioner West Office, Sindh Survey Department, and Anti-Encroachment Force for allegedly facilitating land grabbers to encroach government land on a large scale by taking huge bribes from them.

In the report, it is stated that the Supreme Court had dismissed all the review petitions concerning the extension of the lease or conversion of 30 years lease to 99 years, but such practice is still continued and visible from the record of Sindh Land Utilization, Board of Revenue.

It says that the public land in NA Class (unsurveyed lands) of Manghopir, District West, which is transferred to private individuals through abovementioned illegal mutations, is at 5,500 acres and the rate of land in different Dehs varies, but as per average rate acre price in District West is between Rs20 million to Rs50 million, thus the approximate value of the involved land ranges between Rs1 trillion to Rs2.5 trillion.

Describing the role of the Sindh Land Utilization Department, the summary points out the names of officials who were involved in suspicious allotments of land, besides the role of officials of the Sindh Survey and Settlement Department and Anti-Encroachment Force has also been highlighted in it.

The CM inspection summary report is of the view that as mutations, entries in the revenue record, allotments, lease extensions, and conversions from a 30-year lease to a 99-year lease were implemented during the period of 2012-2023, in contravention of the Supreme Court order of November 28, 2012, the absence of duly verified records of allotments has been found suspicious and is liable to cancelation by the relevant revenue authority after adopting due process of law in terms of Section 164 of the Land Revenue Act, 1967. Till the completion of such a process no subsequent transactions may be allowed in the said entries in the Record of Rights.

The Land Utilization Department may compile a comprehensive record encompassing allotments executed on government land throughout the Province from 2012 to 2023 for scrutiny.

The CM inspection team in the same summary has suggested legal action under applicable laws (Criminal and Disciplinary) against government officials involved in fraudulent activities and forgery of the revenue record, who caused a massive loss to the government. Coupled with the influence and resourcefulness of the accused officers, the most efficacious means to ensure meaningful accountability is to refer the case to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for prosecution, recovery of losses and retrieval of unlawfully occupied land from private individuals. Concurrently, it is imperative to place under suspension or post such delinquent staff out of the revenue limits of Karachi Division to secure the revenue record.