PAF converts land for ‘national security’ into housing scheme in Lahore

Published February 1, 2019
Audit report submitted to PAC reveals unauthorised occupation of CAA land causes Rs1.92bn loss to exchequer. — File photo
Audit report submitted to PAC reveals unauthorised occupation of CAA land causes Rs1.92bn loss to exchequer. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: An audit report on the aviation division has revealed that the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) converted the land acquired for “national security” into a housing scheme, causing a loss of Rs1.92 billion to the national exchequer.

The report submitted to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Thursday stated: “During audit it was found that Civil Aviation Authority (GM Walton Aerodrome Lahore) could not get vacated CAA land at Walton Aerodrome measuring 19.21 acres from PAF that forcibly occupied the land in 2006-07 on the pretext of national security and for setting up radar. However, the same land was sold out to members of Pak Falcon Society for which each member had paid the cost of land/development. This resulted in unjustified/unauthorised occupation of CAA land valuing Rs1,921 million.”

The CAA replied that there were many pending land issues between it and the PAF, which were under process for settlement, according to the report.

The audit officials, on the other hand, were of the view that matter needed to be taken up at an appropriate level to decide/resolve the issue.

Audit report submitted to PAC reveals unauthorised occupation of CAA land causes Rs1.92bn loss to exchequer

The CAA board had at its 139th meeting on Nov 2, 2011 expressed displeasure over the encroachment upon the CAA land and directed that old encroachments at all airports be identified and the airport managers/officers concerned who failed to safeguard the CAA land from encroachment be penalised.

The departmental accounts committee (DAC) had referred the audit para to the PAC in December 2012 and also directed the CAA to provide original title of allotment of land to the PAF for the setting up of radar.

In a meeting held on Jan 18 this year, the CAA informed the DAC that the issue of land between the authority and PAF was under process for settlement through proper adjustments. However, it said, the issue was being taken up with the PAF for return of the unilaterally occupied land or carrying out necessary adjustment/compensation with mutual consent.

The DAC, however, was not convinced with the CAA reply and submitted the audit para to the PAC for discussion and decision. The audit report suggested that “PAC may like to take appropriate action for unauthorised occupation and utilisation of CAA’s land”.

The CAA officials informed the PAC that the area in question was already out of bounds for civilians and, therefore, the land could not be used for residential or commercial purpose.

PAC member Hina Rabbani Khar suggested that since a senior PAF official was also a member of the CAA board of directors, the board might be dissolved. She expressed surprised that the land had been converted into the housing scheme in 2006-07, no action was taken against the officials responsible for causing losses to the national exchequer.

PAC chairman Shahbaz Sharif asked why the matter had not been settled at the DAC level and constituted a special committee headed by Senator Shibli Faraz to investigate the issue.

Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2019

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