FAISALABAD: The Punjab Housing and Town Planning Agency (PHATA) has issued a notice to the Radio Pakistan Faisalabad administration, asking it to vacate the radio station land, as the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf wants to use it for other “beneficial purposes”.
However, the former radio employees and local sources say that the precious piece of the radio station land had been on the ‘hit list’ of land mafia since long.
The Radio Pakistan Faisalabad station was setup in D-Ground, People’s Colony, in September 1982.
As per official sources, the issue of the piece of land where the radio station was built was raised by a PTI MPA Latif Nazar during a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan, suggesting the precious land should be used for commercial purposes.
Mr Nazar, who has been appointed as chairman of the Faisalabad Development Authority governing body, had raised the issue during the meeting with the PM on July 22 last.
Ex-employees see it as yet another ‘bid to grab’ percious state property
He had suggested to the PM that the radio station should be shifted to some other government buildings so that the D-Ground place might be utilized for some other “beneficial purposes”.
Subsequently, the PM secretariat sent a directive on July 28 last to information ministry for taking an appropriate action as per rules/policy and submit a detailed report to it.
After the meeting, the ministry had sought a reply from Faisalabad radio station director in this regard and, as per an official, the ministry had been apprised of the issue in detail.
On Aug 31, issuing a notice to the radio station manager, the PHATA deputy director said following the Supreme Court direction on Aug 19 last, the 99-year lease of the station land had expired.
“So, you have been directed to remove the establishments constructed on the D-Ground park within seven days,” the notice said. Otherwise, it said, the establishments would be demolished and Radio Pakistan would have to bear the expenses to be incurred on the demolition.
The notice warned the manger that in case of non-compliance “Action will also be taken against you.”
The PHATA assistant director had been directed to submit “on the spot compliance report”.
Former station head of Radio Pakistan Faisalabad, Mr Ijaz Waqar, told Dawn that on the direction of the then information secretary Gen Mujeebur Rehman, the then commissioner Faisalabad and director physical planning had allotted the D-Ground land to the Radio Pakistan in 1982.
He said subsequently a 20-kanal piece of land was allotted under a 99-year lease agreement for the purpose and that the radio had paid the lease amount.
He said that actually the land mafias had been eying the precious piece of land since long.
A senior radio employee, seeking anonymity, told Dawn that prior to allotment of the land to the radio a cooperative store and a dispensary had been working there.
He said late journalists Ijaz Hashmat Khan had played a pivotal role in getting this land for the radio station on lease.
He said the radio station had been playing an important role in entertaining and educating the local population.
He said that in the past, two local politician brothers who were in the PML-Q then and had now joined the ruling PTI, had tried to get the station land vacated to oblige some of their favourite persons. However, the then information minister Sheikh Rasheed had snubbed them and categorically asked them to refrain from intervening into the issue.
Ali Hasnain, a former employee of Faisalabad radio station, said the building was a national asset and should be preserved instead of using it for commercial purposes.
He said some elements were misguiding the prime minister to grab the precious land and use it commercially.
He said the station had been established lawfully and there was no issue of encroachment.
Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2020