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ISLAMABAD: The chairman of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has cancelled the allotment of over a hundred plots that were allegedly allotted by choice through “corrigendum” during the last few months.

In addition to cancelling the allotments on Friday, acting CDA chairman and Islamabad mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz also ordered an inquiry into the matter.

“It had come to my notice that plots were allotted in various sectors through corrigendum. After ordering an inquiry I ordered the immediate cancellation of all the plots allotted through corrigendum during the last six months,” Mr Aziz told Dawn.

He said further allotments through corrigendum have also been banned.

Plots were allegedly allotted selectively through corrigendum; inquiry ordered

Explaining the corrigendum process, CDA officials said that when an allottee faced a physical problem with plots, such as legal obstruction or some other technical reason, a revised allotment is made which is known as corrigendum.

“There are reports of corruption. During the inquiry, it will be determined how these allotments were made... what criteria was adopted etc,” he said.

CDA officials claimed that the land directorate had in many cases changed the locations of plots from less valuable locations and sectors to relatively more expensive locations, benefiting allottees by millions of rupees through mutual understanding in each case.

They said the directorate had recently accommodated a Chak Shahzad property dealer whose client’s three plots were shifted from I-12, where a plot is priced at around Rs2.5 million, to Chak Shahzad, where a plot of the same size is worth Rs15m.

The land directorate is headed by Irfanullah Khan, a deputationist from the foreign service group who, before joining the land directorate had served as staff officer for Capital Administration and Development Division Minister Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry.

The directorate has been in the headlines over the past year for alleged corruption. In August, it allotted plots to affected people in I-11 and I-12 by choice, as a plot worth Rs2.5m in I-12 is worth Rs6m in I-11.

CDA officials claimed that massive corruption took place in getting plots in I-11, as no criteria was adopted for differentiating between I-12 and I-11.

“Those who gave money to corrupt land directorate officials were accommodated in I-11, and those who did not grease officials’ palms were allotted plots in I-12,” a CDA official alleged.

In at least four cases, some affected people who had already been allotted plots were given four more plots in I-11 during the balloting in August.

The chairman had an inquiry conducted into the scam, which established that double allotments were made, but no action has been taken so far. However, after the dubious balloting, the chairman indefinitely banned further balloting.

In September, the land directorate secretly moved six plots from a lower value subsector to the more upscale F-11/1 and F-11/2 subsectors, in order to benefit six selected individuals who CDA officials claimed had bribed civic body’s officials.

Officials said the land directorate did not issue a public notice to offer all those allotted plots in the area the chance to transfer to more upscale subsectors if their plots were located in a depression, and only accommodated six selected people.

Sources in the CDA said a 30x70 plot in F-11/4 has a market value of around Rs7m, while a plot of the same size in F-11/1 or F-11/2 is worth around Rs25m.

They said that after the ban on balloting, land directorate officials had shifted their focus to corrigendum, and had allotted over a hundred plots using this method over the last several months.When contacted, Land Director Irfanullah Khan said his directorate had made all the corrigendum-based allotments in a transparent manner.

“There is no question of any irregularity in the allotment of plots,” he said, adding that in the last few months around 150 plots were re-allotted for various reasons, including depressions, double allotments and the allotment of plots that were not present on-site.

When asked about the three plots moved from I-12 to Chak Shahzad, he said no plots had been allotted in that area, and corrupt elements were making baseless allegations to create obstacles in his way.

About the criteria for the last balloting held in August, Mr Khan said: “All the plots were allotted in the said balloting through a transparency manner. If there were some mistakes, we rectified that, but there is no question of transparency.” He added that people were adjusted in I-12 and I-11 on the availability of plots and applications, and also defended the allotment of six plots in F-11.

Some CDA officials have also questioned the conduct of Member Estate Khushal Khan, otherwise an officer with a good reputation among his colleagues because of high-profile encroachment operations he conducted against luxury hotels and the Centaurus Mall.

However, he did not take action against his subordinate land directorate. The member estate could not be reached for comment on the matter of the corrigendum allotments.

Published in Dawn, December 18th, 2017