MULTAN: The commissioner has rejected the appeal of an international fast food chain in connection with the lease of more than four-kanal piece of land of Wasa while issuing direction to initiate proceedings for the auction/lease of the land afresh.

The Wasa authorities on Oct 17 last sealed the premises of Pizza Hut in Gulgasht Colony with the help of police and civil defence as the 20-year lease period expired in December 1999, but the administration of pizza outlet did not vacate the land. It rather illegally rented one of its portion to another food chain Burger King and this portion was also sealed.

Pizza Hut General Manager Zeshan Cheema in his application for arbitration stated that the lease agreement was executed on Dec 20, 1999 for 20 years which was further extendable for 10 years and the governing body of Multan Development Authority (MDA) approved it on March 17, 1999. He stated that as per agreement Wasa would hand over the possession of land within 30 days after the execution of the agreement and lessee would pay the monthly rent from Aug 1, 2000 whichever is earlier but the possession was handed over on March 25, 2002 due to litigation with a third party.

He claimed that a letter was also issued by Wasa on June 24, 2017 regarding the possession and ending lease period and thereafter the lessee started his business while clearance certificates and NOCs were issued by Wasa on March 22, 2018 and a new extended lease agreement was signed between the parties on March 19, 2018 for a period of 33 years.

He claimed that several notices for vacation of site were issued by Wasa on May 4, 2019 and Oct 7, 2020 with the reason that the lease period had come to an end while finally the Wasa sealed the business point. While requesting for the order to unseal the premises by declaring the act illegal, he claimed that vacation notices were not received to lessee.

Commissioner Javed Akhtar Mehmood stated that the parties were summoned on Oct 31 and applicant’s counsel argued that the expiry date of possession was March 24, 2022 instead of Dec 20, 2019 while he also presented a copy of another letter issued by Wasa Director (Admin) according to which after the extendable 10 years the expiry date is March 24, 2032.

Sources said that instead of issuing direction to take action against the food chain for submitting bogus letters, the commissioner directed to give the first right of refusal in the auction proceedings to it. They said the commissioner office did not issue the decision for more than two months.

MDA Director General Agha Ali Abbas said now when the department has received the order, further proceedings including the lodging of the FIR for making and presenting fake official documents would be done.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2020

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