KARACHI: An accountability court was informed on Wednesday that the Fazaia Housing Scheme was launched in the name of martyrs’ families and war heroes but only 30 units were allotted to the families of shuhada.

On Wednesday, investigating officer Aslam Pervez Abro submitted a progress report in court with regard to the Rs13 billion Fazaia Housing Scheme case.

Two builders, Tanveer Ahmed and Bilal Tanveer, have been arrested and are currently in NAB custody for allegedly depriving the public of Rs13bn through investments in the scheme.

Both the suspects were produced before the administrative judge of the accountability courts, Judge Farid Anwar Qazi, and the IO sought extension in their physical custody for further interrogation and investigation.

The IO’s progress report stated that during the course of interrogation further evidence had come on record that both the suspects were involved in cheating public at large in connivance with officers/officials of the PAF.

The judge extends the physical remand of held suspects for 14 more days

During the course of investigation, the report said, it also surfaced that the PAF started this project in the name of rehabilitation of war heroes and martyrs’ families, but the record showed that out of 8,400 planned housing units, only 30 units had been allotted to the families of shuhada, which negated the very purpose of this housing scheme.

It added that during scrutiny of the record it emerged that the detained builders in active connivance with PAF officials collected Rs18,208,247,781 in the head of form fees, registration, open certificate, standard and luxury apartments, surcharge, transfer fees, overseas apartments, overseas transfer fee, bungalows, the surcharge, transfer and proceedings fee for the bungalows and direct deposits.

The report stated that both the builders collected a handsome amount of Rs18,208,247,781 from 5,732 individuals, adding that the figure did not include the PAF personnel, who were lured into purchasing housing units by the PAF officials within their own department.

In execution and launching of the scheme, the suspects blatantly flouted the relevant laws and carried out its advertisement, sale, development and booking without getting approval of its layout plan from the Malir Development Authority (MDA) and no-objection certificate from the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA), it stated.

It added that the suspects got the land of the project illegally consolidated/adjusted/exchanged with the MDA through a letter dated June 19, 2015 which was subsequently cancelled by the MDA on July 7, 2015, yet they illegally occupied the government land by erecting boundary wall around the project site and carried out the construction work.

The report mentioned that the record received from the deputy commissioner further showed that some of the survey numbers of the land transferred by suspect Ahmed in favour of the PAF fell within the planned land for requisition by the government for the K-IV project, thus scrutiny of the land record was under way to determine further land/survey numbers felling within the K-IV project.

The IO informed the court that neither the suspects obtained approval/NOC from the SBCA nor did they got the project excluded from the provisions of the Sindh Building Control Ordinance, 1979 by the provincial government despite the fact that the SBCA had reported that it advised the Fazaia Housing Scheme management several times to get an approval/NOC in respect of the project under the law.

Furthermore, the SBCA also issued a show-cause notice on reports of unauthorised construction and sale activities on Jan 8, it added.

“The record collected from the Chief Minister House shows that the officials of the PAF had applied to the chief minister for excluding all operations of SBCO-1979 from the Fazaia housing scheme,” the report said, adding: “The CM’s principal secretary replied on Jan 10, 2017 that the CM vide a summary dated Jan 10, 2017 had allowed the concessions only for allotment of residential accommodation to the heirs of the Shuhada [martyrs] only.”

The special prosecutor, Shahbaz Sahotra, informed the judge that the suspects claimed to have refunded Rs2,151,51,333 to 4,500 allottees, which was required to be verified, while the suspects also claimed to have spent Rs2.2bn on the project’s development and construction.

He said besides scrutiny of the bills, it was also to be verified through physical inspection of the project’s site with the assistance of technical experts, while the suspects also allegedly withdrew Rs2.3bn from the bank accounts in connivance with the PAF officials, which needed to be verified.

The prosecutor said that the scrutiny of around five bank accounts of the scheme showed the balance amount of Rs13,243,855,399 belonging to those affected by this scam.

The report mentioned that notices had been issued to the Arch Vision Plus and Consultant groups, which provided conceptual and architectural plans of the project to ascertain exact number of housing units, adding that notices were also issued to the ministry of defence to explain whether it granted permission for launching the scheme for sale to the general public.

It stated that notices were also issued to the project director, who is a PAF officer, for providing complete record of the scheme while notices were also issued to the senior PAF officials to join the inquiry so that their role in this fraud could also be examined, as they are signatory of the agreement with the detained builders.

“The record received from PAF officials and Maxim Properties is to be examined and confronted to the arrested accused to check the veracity of Rs2,151,551,333 refunded to the 4,500 affectees, verify expenditure of Rs2.2 billion on the project site in addition to the contribution of the accused PAF officials,” the report said.

The prosecutor pleaded with the judge to extend remand of the suspects in the custody of NAB for 14 days in order to enable the IO to analyse and check hundreds of thousands of bank transactions on account of payment of instalments by the affected persons and probe other aspects and determine the role of the officials nominated in the present case.

On the other hand, defence counsel Ravi Panjani opposed the plea for extension in remand of his clients in NAB custody and pleaded to remand them in judicial custody.

Allowing the NAB request, the judge extended their physical remand for two weeks directing the IO to produce them on the next date along with a progress report.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2020