KARACHI: The provincial Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) has recommended to the Sindh chief secretary for registration of an FIR against former Karachi mayor and Pak Sarzameen Party chairman Syed Mustafa Kamal and 24 current and former officials of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and Karachi Water and Sewerage Board for their alleged involvement in illegal allotment of 82 acres of amenity land in Mehmoodabad in 2009.
The ACE also sought permission from the chief secretary for the arrest of Mr Kamal as well as other suspects.
Official sources told Dawn that the ACE conducted a probe into the alleged misuse of total 82 acres of land — 49.75 acres belonging to a sewerage treatment plant, known as TP-II, in Mehmoodabad, and subsequent china-cutting on over 33 acres of the land reserved for the S-III project — and concluded that the suspects illegally allotted the land in question for “personal and political gains”.
The inquiry found that the illegal allotment and china-cutting caused an accumulative loss of around Rs10 billion to the exchequer.
The ex-Karachi mayor and 24 others illegally allotted amenity land for ‘personal and political gains’
The final inquiry report named Mr Kamal, then KWSB chief Fazl-ur-Rehman, KMC and KWSB officials including Tariq Naseer, Najam-uz-Zaman, Syed Zaheer Abbas Zaidi, Saif Abbas, Mohammad Nadeem, Alley Ahmed Naqvi, Mohsin Ansari, Tahir Naseer, Zulfiqar Ali, Muneer Ahmed Abbasi, Zubair Khan Jakhrani, Qaiser Ali, Abdul Malik, Shamsuddin, Nadeem Khan, Syed Adil Ali, Badar-ud-ddin, Zubair Khan, Sikandar Ali Qureshi, Zamir Hussain, Tufail Ahmed, Jugdesh Kumar.
The Anti-Corruption Committee-I is headed by the chief secretary and the ACE could not lodge an FIR and cause any arrest without his approval.
The sources said the chief secretary might take up the final inquiry report in a week for further action.
Probe conducted on SC orders
The sources said the ACE recorded statements of 33 persons and retrieved the documentary evidence containing 2,700 pages during the course of the inquiry.
They said that the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the water commission had authorised the Sindh government to conduct the inquiry into the alleged illegal usurpation of 82 acres of land.
In its findings, the report stated that it had been established beyond a reasonable doubt that 49.75 acres of the land controlled by the KWSB was amenity land reserved for the TP-II project in Mehmoodabad.
There was no rule or law enabling the suspects to transfer or allot the amenity land for residential and commercial purpose, the report said.
“In total, 82 acres of the amenity land had been illegally usurped,” the report stated, adding: “Despite the stay order of the high court and restriction by the then chief minister, the accused persons managed illegal resettlement, whimsically. It’s a clear case of misuse of property to the benefit of accused and their handpicked beneficiaries.”
The acts of commission and omission by accused persons completely led to cause a delay in functioning of the TP-II project and Greater Karachi S-III project resulting into jacking up of revised price posing a burden of Rs5bn as revised cost. Besides, the delays also led to increasing ecological and environmental trouble for Karachi at large, the report stated.
Over 49 acres allotted to Preedy Street affectees
The report stated that the TP-II was established in 1980 in Mehmoodabad and handed over to the KWSB in 1983.
At present, 49.2 acres had been allotted/leased by the KMC to the so-called affectees of the Corridor-III, Lines Area project, through illegal encroachment.
It stated that on Dec 26, 2008 the then KWSB chief Fazl-ur-Rehman sent a note to the board’s chairman/city nazim Mustafa Kamal in which he proposed over 49.25 acres of the land to the then City District Government Karachi for utilisation of the same for 1,459 affectees of Preedy Street (Lines Area).
Mr Kamal approved the proposal and the said portion of land was handed over by the KWSB to the CDGK on Feb 9, 2009, it added.
The report stated that at the time of such process of allotment of plots to the affectees of the Lines Area project, citizens of Karachi, including Ardeshir Cowasjee had filed a lawsuit in the Sindh High Court regarding the illegal allotment of the amenity land of the TP-II.
It also mentioned that at the time of filing of the lawsuit in the SHC the petitioners had submitted/attached certain documents (site sketch of the land) which indicate that 132 acres of land was reserved for amenity purposes (treatment plant). There was no encroachment at that time and at some portion some installations and ponds were available, while the rest of the land, approximately 100 acres, was reserved for future extension, it added.
The report mentioned that it further transpired that on Nov 22, 2008 an application was sent to the Sindh CM, mentioning that the CDGK was going to allot the amenity land reserved for TP-II to persons of own choice. It said the CM stated: “Pl. Ensure that no encroachment takes place on amenity plot and report.” The same was sent to the chief secretary, but the “ex-Nazim did not consider it too,” and the accused persons acted in disregard of the laws, the report stated.
The inquiry report concluded that by no rule or law the amenity land could be allotted/transferred to any other functionary whatsoever and there were a number of judgements passed by superior judiciary in this regard while the principle of the change of the amenity land was well-settled.
The report stated that the law of land acquisition for the public interest provided for compensation to the displaced persons, but not adjustment through free-of-cost plots as an alternative arrangement. “However, they were chosen to be compensated with plot against plot by the accused Mustafa Kamal, the Nazim, Javed Hanif, the then DCO [district coordination officer].
Meanwhile, during the course of inquiry, the ACE summoned Mr Kamal.
He had told the ACE that he had allotted in good intentions around 49 acres to the affectees of Lines Area project, who were displaced due to the construction of Preedy Street, better known as Corridor-III, for their resettlement. He said that the then City Council had also adopted a resolution in this regard.
He stated that the plots in question were given temporary lease and the present government could cancel the allotment.
He made it clear that he had no link and was not responsible at all for whatever china-cutting took place on KMC land.
Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2018