ISLAMABAD: Nazeer Kayani, who had dreamt of building a home in DHA Valley, is still waiting for his plot despite having paid for it in full around three years ago.
Last year in September, he had rejected Bahria Town’s offer of an alternate plot in its own housing schemes in Rawalpindi and Karachi.
Bahria Town offered alternative plots to Kayani and many others who had paid for a plot of land in DHA Valley in its Phase 8 scheme in Rawalpindi, and in Karachi.
Owners of plots in DHA Valley project being offered alternative land in Bahria Town schemes in Karachi and Rawalpindi
Thousands like Mr Kayani have paid DHA the entire amount for a plot in the Valley scheme. He paid Rs 880,000 for his eight-marla plot in 2012. “I paid DHA in full, so why should I accept a plot in Bahria Town,” he said.
This, however, is not his only reason for saying no. He also refused because Bahria Town was demanding additional money for this swap.
The Bahria Town proposal came after military authorities reportedly expressed serious concerns over the delay in the DHA Valley last year, where at least 41,000 serving and retired soldiers as well as the heirs of martyrs, had bought plots.
It is not clear if Bahria Town is offering alternative plots because it does not have sufficient land or because the Valley project is still far from being finished.
The DHA Valley project has been in the news recently, and some people have been arrested in Lahore for a DHA-related scam in the provincial capital.
The agreement for the development of DHA Valley, Islamabad, was signed on August 16 2008, and the signatories were then-DHA administrator retired Brigadier Javed Iqbal, Malik Riaz of Bahria Town and Zahid Rafique of Habib Rafique Pvt Limited (HRL).
According to the agreement, Bahria Town and HRL were responsible for acquiring and developing the land for DHA Valley, located near DHA Islamabad Phase-2 Extension.
Following the launch of the project in 2008, about 110,000 civilians and 41,000 defence personnel applied to DHA. Most of the armed personnel who applied were junior level officers such as junior commissioned officers (JCOs) or non-commissioned jawaans.
After the application process was completed, buyers started paying instalments to DHA. Under the agreement, DHA transferred the entire amount to the Bahria Town. However, not a single plot has been handed over to any of the buyers so far.
Though it is unclear what led to this delay, there is a complicating factor.
Prior to the signing of the DHA Valley agreement, the Punjab government in 2006 proposed the Dadhocha Dam, a water reservoir, for the garrison city Rawalpindi.
For some reason, the DHA management insisted on developing the housing scheme on the land earmarked for the dam, while suggesting that the Punjab government relocate the dam site. However, the Punjab Irrigation Department refused – this refusal became public during the hearing of a case related to the construction of the dam in the Supreme Court.
In other words, it is not clear if the DHA Valley project will be completed anytime soon.
As per a report presented to the Supreme Court, the DHA valley project is among the mega land scams the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is investigating for alleged “embezzlement in sale, development and purchase of land”.
According to the report, the inquiry was authorised on July 3, 2012 and was scheduled to be completed on October 15, 2015. NAB estimates that the scam involved 1,310,000 kanals of land.
Since NAB has failed to submit any report about the inquiry to the Supreme Court, a former director of DHA recently filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the bureau’s alleged negligence.
However, a senior NAB official told Dawn that the bureau was wary of proceeding with the case.
NAB spokesperson Nawazish Ali Asim said that he did not have any knowledge of the progress in the matter, as it was being probed by NAB Director General Zahir Shah. Despite repeated attempts, Mr Shah could not be reached for comment.
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) was contacted for comment on Jan 20, but despite assurances that their point of view would be provided, Dawn received no official response on its request to date.
A DHA official, however, said that development on the DHA Valley project was “in progress” and that the site had been visited by around two to three thousand buyers.
Retired Lt-Col Khalil who works with Bahria Town also claimed that development work at DHA Valley was in full swing and that the plots would be handed over soon.
However, property dealers from the area told Dawn that only six blocks of the scheme have been constructed, complete with proper infrastructure, while the rest of the land is still disputed by the Punjab government.
Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2016