LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau on Monday launched investigation into a mega land scam involving Railways Minister Khwaja Saad Rafique’s Paragon Housing Society in Lahore and the Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC).
The NAB has written to the PLDC to submit record regarding its projects – Ashiana Iqbal Lahore – for which a contract agreement was signed between the PLDC and M/s Anhui Construction Engineering Group owned by Director Paragon Exchange Ali Sajjad, M/s Bismillah Engineering Company owned chief executive of Paragon City Nadeem Zia and M/s Sparco Group.
In the letter, NAB also directed the PLDC to send an officer concerned to its Lahore office on Nov 22 along with copies of contract agreements and all other relevant files of the projects. “The status of the land which was rendered at the disposal of these firms for construction of quarters/houses should also be provided,” the bureau said.
Sources said the NAB had decided to initiate probe into the matters of the minister’s housing society after receiving a number of complaints regarding ‘illegal deal’ involving 3,000 kanal government land between the PLDC and the said companies.
PLDC told to submit record
“The PLDC a few years ago had signed an agreement with Bismillah Engineering and Sparco (front companies of Paragon Housing Society) for construction of 6,700 apartments on 1,000 kanals. In lieu of this construction, some 2,000 kanals were to be given to these two companies,” an official source said, adding these companies were to be given land corresponding to their construction work whereas the entire piece of land was given in possession of these companies without getting any construction work done.
According to the Land Disposal Act, a land measuring beyond five marla cannot be sold without auction. “But in his case gross violation has been committed as both companies were to deposit 20 per cent of the total value which they did not.”
The Colonies Department of Punjab government had also specifically maintained that if this land was not utilised for the said scheme (Ashiana Iqbal) it would be surrendered back to the department as the government land could not be used for any other purpose.
A source said this matter was earlier reported to the bureau but the NAB under Qamar Zaman Chaudhry preferred not to initiate investigation.
Khwaja Saad Rafique was approached for a comment but he was busy in the assembly session.
NAB chief: National Accountability Bureau Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal has directed its regional bureaus to expedite investigation into all mega scandals and submit a report to him within three months.
Speaking to officials of the Lahore bureau here on Monday, the chairman said the first and foremost priority of the NAB was to fight corruption. “We have to adopt zero tolerance policy towards corruption as NAB is not formed for victimisation of anyone,” he said.
Mr Iqbal also said of the 179 mega corruption cases 96 had been in courts while 25 were at inquiry stage and as many at investigation stage and remaining 33 had been disposed of according to law.
He said all regional bureaus had been directed to expedite investigation into these scandals and submit a report to him within three months. He appreciated the performance of the Lahore office.
Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2017