FAISALABAD, Nov 22: Eleven thousand families have been allegedly duped by the Faisalabad Development Authority (FDA) that took more than Rs10 billion from them in 2005 for developing a housing society, however, not a single house has been constructed as part of the scheme so far.

The over-1,800-acre colony designed on Sargodha Road adjacent to Faisalabad motorway was inaugurated in 2005. Thousands of people had purchased forms for plots through a private bank that also had authority to advertise the scheme.

As many as 10,664 residential plots had been designed in three categories – five- and 10-marlas and one kanal -- in five blocks from A to F. The colony was supposed to have 2,900 five-marla plots, 4,474 10-marla and 3,290 one-kanal. Block A was supposed to have 1,664 10-marla and one-kanal plots, B 1,585, C 1,531, D 1,882, E 2,128 and F block had 1,625 plots.

Around 555 commercial plots along main boulevard had also been designed. Buyers had paid Rs64,000 per marla following promises of an expo centre, a stadium, hospital, school and other facilities there along with sweet drinking water, gas and electricity. Project authorities also assured the buyers possession would be given in 2007 with all civic facilities.

However, six years after the promise none of the promised facilities had been provided except roads, water tanks, installation of electric poles at selected places, sewerage system and an official building.

PML-N, MNA Mian Abdul Manan, who had been vice-chairman of the FDA, told Dawn that ‘FDA City’ was a fraud of billions of rupees and government should probe the issue. He said the project would appear as the biggest scam of Punjab involving embezzlement of billions. He said nobody was ready to consider the ‘FDA City’ scandal as corruption as it could bring a bad name to the government.

FDA officials had allegedly been trying to cover up their negligence by assuring people that work on the scheme was underway and for the same purpose a ‘Spring Festival’ was also organised by former FDA director general Waheed Akhtar Ansari.

Dr Mohammad Ishfaq, an agriculture scientist and recipient of Tamgha-i-Imtiaz and Sitara-i-Imtiaz, had also purchased a plot in the colony in 2007. However, so far he had not been able to fulfil his dream of building a house. He told Dawn that site of the scheme had become a safe haven for robbers who were looting visitors in broad daylight.

While the land was meant for a housing scheme, it was instead being used by the police department to organise races for constable aspirants.

Like many others, Dr Maqsood Ahmed had also purchased a 10-marla plot in the housing scheme. However, for the last 10 years he had forgotten about the exact location of his plot. He said he did not trust the government and was helpless at the alleged negligence of officials. “I can neither construct a house on the plot nor sell it,” he lamented.

Zafar Ali, a state developer who had established his office in the city colony, said the FDA had promised underground power, however, electricity poles had been installed but without power. He said officials were allegedly pacifying furious plot owners by making false claims that negotiations were underway with Fesco for provision of electricity. He added that the promise of handing over the plots in 2007 had also not been fulfilled

According to the sources, everyone from top Punjab government officials to senior bureaucracy was aware of the alleged malpractices at the FDA City, however, nobody was doing anything.

On Oct 6, 2009, the then local government minister Dost Mohammad Khosa, had visited Faisalabad for a briefing on two water supply projects worth billions of rupees being funded by Japan and France. During the briefing by the then FDA DG, Khosa had expressed anguish over some malpractices at the FDA City and said a high-ranking provincial committee would visit the district and probe the issue. He had said the officers responsible for the alleged malpractice would have to face the music. However, sources said no action had been taken against anyone.

On Dec 6, 2010, FDA officials had allegedly tried to grab the public’s attention by issuing statements to the media that sale and purchase of plots at the FDA City had registered a surge as it was near completion. They said following increasing prices, other private and government departments had also started developing housing colonies.

On Nov 1, 2010, FDA officials had promised that development work was in its last stages and handing over of plots would start in December.

DCO Noorul Amin Mengal said efforts had been initiated to establish a school, police station, dispensary, mosque and other promised facilities. Similarly, efforts for electricity and sweet water were also underway, he added.

“I have been appointed as DCO recently and would not go through what happened in the past. I will push the affairs to serve the plot holders.”