Governor-CM row led to Rs81bn land scam disclosure -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Governor-CM row led to Rs81bn land scam disclosure

Disclosing this, sources told this correspondent that the authorities of the Board of Revenue (BoR) and Chief Minister House were involved in this land scam and the transfer of Special Secretary to CM Chaudhry Muhammad Ali Shah was a part of this sordid affair.The land scam was made public after one week of the action taken against Special Secretary to CM as well as transfer of Director Survey and Land Record Aftab Memon and Land Superintendent BoR Asif Memon. The scam was unearthed after a survey was conducted on the directive of Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad. A similar survey was also conducted on the directive of Chief Minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim two years ago but its findings were not made public, with the officials claiming that former Special Secretary to CM Chaudhry Muhammad Ali had dumped the report to save himself and some favourites.

According to an official handout released from the Governor House a land scam was unearthed wherein Rs 81 billion worth of land had been illegally occupied. It was also stated that 22,965 acres of prime land in 18 towns and 8,162 acres of city land had been occupied through making bogus entries in the record. According to the survey conducted on the instruction of the Sindh Governor in 18 towns, 1793 entries were found to be bogus. The sources said that politicians, ministers and legislators from both the ruling and opposition parties as well as officials and businessmen were involved in this land scam. According to the sources, massive changes in the Survey and Land Record of BoR were found bogus and as per the survey some Mukhtiarkars and DDOs were also involved in making 1,793 bogus entries in the record.

Major bogus entries in the official record were found made during the period of former chief minister Ali Muhammad Maher and Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim. Both the chief ministers were holding the BoR portfolio and were directly dealing with the concerned officials, the sources added. Insiders pointed out that huge portions of land in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Gulistan-e-Jauher, Northern Bypass, Gaddap, Shah Faisal Town, Korangi, Hawksbay and National Highway were occupied through making forged entries in the record. The main culprit of this scam Latif Brohi, a former Mukhtiarkar of Scheme-33, fled from the country while he was wanted in three criminal cases by NAB and Anti-Corruption Police.

Another official Ali Muhammad Hingoro, ex-district officer Karachi, was also involved in this land scam and was wanted in three cases. Authorities informed the governor that some other BoR officials Maqbool Memon, Khadim Hussain and Mehram Chandio were also involved in the land scam. The governor was also told that some land mafia members Adam, Jano, Mehmood, Ghulam, Shakil, Obaid, Azhar and others were the main characters in making bogus entries in the land record, the sources added. According to the sources, BoR officials and Mukhtiarkars had provided the land record to the land mafia members and politicians, who changed the names in the record with those who had died. The land mafia replaced the names of the dead people in the survey number with the names of some of their employees and servants. These changes are commonly known as ìFotgi Khataî.

The land mafia made billions through disposing of this occupied land and the money was transferred to foreign countries. In most of the cases builders purchased the land through land mafia and raised various projects while this land was the property of the government.According to officials, most of the land – leased for 30 years for agriculture and poultry farm purpose – was being used for commercial purposes. Some of this 30-year leased land had been used for flat sites but no action was taken against the authorities concerned.The sources said that the main reason behind the property price hike in Karachi was the conversion of agriculture land into commercial units with the connivance of Mukhtiarkars and BoR officers. Insiders said that the former special secretary to CM was backing these authorities and the quarters concerned informed the chief minister about this episode.

The sources further said that the authorities informed the governor that some of the land mafia members had hired private guards who were using the Rangers-like uniform just to protect themselves as they were selling the government land on forged documents.Sources said that Dr Ebad was informed about this land scam after action was taken against the special secretary to CM, as the government servants concerned were feeling threat for their jobs. They told the governor that more information about the land scam could be provided to him if he assures protection to their life and service.
Source: The News
Date:1/28/2007