Saturday November 27, 2021

Cheating allegations in land acquisition: Authorities get stay on New Nazimabad Housing Project

February 15, 2020

KARACHI: After observing serious forgeries and many illegalities in official record, Deputy Commissioner West, Karachi, has referred the matter of mega housing project Naya Nazimabad to chairman Sindh Anti-Corruption Establishment for comprehensive inquiry.

Deputy Commissioner West Fayyaz Alam Solangi also asked Director General Sindh Building Control Authority for cancellation of all layout plans of Naya Nazimabad, asked secretary Land Utilization and superintendent of survey and settlement department for verification and legalstatus of lease documents of the same project and most importantly asked the heads of five commercial banks Allied, Summit, Faisal, National Bank and Pak Bionic Investment Company for ceasing banking transactions of Naya Nazimabad project.

Illegalities and misappropriations in the same mega housing project Naya Nazimabad were first pointed out by The News six years ago in a story titled “Rs100 bn Karachi housing project hoodwinks law” published on February 3, 2014.

On the other hand, the Sindh High Court by suspending the operations upon all actions of the Sindh government regarding Naya Nazimabad till February 27 restrained the Sindh government department from taking any coercive action, issued notices to Advocate General Sindh and others for the next date of hearing i.e. February 27.

According to the official correspondence, the mega housing project Naya Nazimabad, owned by M/s Arif Habib Group with majority shares and Aqeel Kareem Dhedhi as minor shareholder, is ongoing for the last many years comprising 450 acres on ground level and the remaining major part on the top of hillocks spanning around 700 acres. Official correspondence stated that these hillocks were furiously cut for crush as well as clearance purposes to make way for upcoming residential units.

Official correspondence further stated that Ghat Wadh form No35 in favor of M/S Naya Nazimabad scheme was cancelled by Director Settlement and Survey, Sindh, in 2013, then a letter of the same department was submitted in 2016 by the management of Naya Nazimabad about the restoration of that Ghat Wadh form, which proved fake and forged under verification. DC Solangi also raised this issue before the head of anti-corruption and asked for inquiry of this issue particularly.

The deputy commissioner in his letter to chairman anti-corruption said that the management of Naya Nazimabad was summoned under Section 22 of the Land Revenue Act to share the title documents of their project. Documents shared by the management exposed further glaring loopholes in the entire title documents. First, their entire title claim derives from the order of Collector of Karachi issued on October 31, 1960 who initially allotted 1,074 acres of land on 30 years lease specifically for the purpose of a cement plant, but curiously via an apparently fake and managed corrigendum date May 30, 1961 the said land’s tenure was increased to 99 years; this corrigendum must be put to the test of forensic and record-checking to ascertain its veracity, which is highly doubtful.

The letter of DC Solangi added that the land was especially given for the purpose of establishing a cement factory but instead M/s Arif Habib has launched a mega housing project without getting the land use converted from the competent forum. This is a serious violation of the provisions of Colonization of Government Lands Act 1912.

The chairman anti-corruption was asked to also inquire that there was significant number of discrepancies and inconsistencies in various entries of record of rights related to the period with altered and managed chronologies, which cast serious doubts on the title claim by the M/s Arif Habib and moreover possession of 128 acres of land inside the main unit of Naya Nazimabad is based on entry in the record of rights that was cancelled in the year 2004 by the office of the commissioner.

The regularization has been done via an order by a former secretary of Land Utilization Department in the year 2012, which is again suspicious because after the lapse of seven years by former Assistant Commissioner Manghopir Asadulllah Abbasi, who is known to have close connections with the Naya Nazimabad project. As per the order of the Supreme Court of November 28, 2012, there is a complete ban on all kinds of mutations, regularization, conversion and transfer of state land till further orders. This lease deed has been presented by the office of sub-registrar to the undersigned for verification and is patently illegal and in violation of the directive of Supreme Court.

Deputy Commissioner West Fayyaz Solangi told The News that his office had discovered a number of serious issues regarding the Naya Nazimabad project.

His office took the notice of the activities when area people complained that hills comprising 700 acres were being cut to make way for housing units. Then one thing led to another and they found a number of forgeries and discrepancies.

The management of Naya Nazimabad in its petition before the Sindh High Court stated that the society (Naya Nazimabad) is the owner of 1,366 acres and it was purchased through the Privatization Commission.

The management of Naya Nazimabad further claimed that Ghat Wadh form of its land was cancelled in 2013 by the directions of Directorate of Settlement Survey and Land Records, Sindh, but in 2016, the same was restored on its request.

The management also submitted the letter of NAB regarding the closure of the same issue, NOC of Karachi Development Authority and other documents of different departments showing their claim as genuine.