Land acquisition for revised Ring Road project allowed

Published October 18, 2021
A file view of Rawalpindi's Ring Road. — Photo provided by Khalid Hasnain
A file view of Rawalpindi's Ring Road. — Photo provided by Khalid Hasnain

RAWALPINDI: Punjab Planning and Development Board (PPDB) has given the green signal to start land acquisition for the revised project of Rawalpindi Ring Road and approved the PC-I worth Rs6.7 billion.

However, the district administration is yet to recover money from the landowners which it had paid to them for acquiring land on the old route of the Ring Road from Radio Pakistan to Murat and Sangjani.

Land worth Rs380 million had been acquired for the Ring Road project in Rawalpindi district, however, following reports of corruption the land acquisition was cancelled.

The scandal came to light when Prime Minister Imran Khan took notice of allegations that the Punjab bureaucracy and some PTI politicians had planned an additional road which benefit some private housing societies and increased the actual cost of the project by Rs25 billion.

District admin yet to recover money paid to owners of land bought for cancelled route, official says

Former Divisional Commissioner retired Capt Mohammad Mehmood remained in custody of the Anti-Corruption Establishment for two months and Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari resigned from the post of special assistant to the prime minister after the controversy.

In early August, Commissioner Syed Gulzar Hussain Shah cancelled the land acquisition for the project. Under Section 48(1) of the Land Acquisition Act 1894, the amount paid to landowners for acquisition of land undertaken along the entire length of the illegally advertised alignment falling in Rawalpindi and Attock districts would be recovered.

“After the Rawalpindi Ring Road scandal, Commissioner Syed Gulzar Hussain Shah canceled the project and its land acquisition in Rawalpindi and Attock. Work started to recover the money from those whose land was acquired for the project but it is not yet completed,” a senior official of the district administration told Dawn.

He said that the government had asked the administration to coordinate with Rawalpindi Development Authority to start the process of land acquisition as per the new approved route.

“As per the new route, the 38.3-km-long new route will start from Banth near Rawat and end at Thalian near the motorway. New price assessment will be made after imposing section 4 in the area to stop people from sale and purchase of land,” he said.

He said that the same project was made during the tenure of Nawaz Sharif led federal government in 2014. However, after coming to power, the PTI-led government in Punjab made a new project but stopped it after charges of corruption.

A senior official of RDA told Dawn that after the approval of the PC-I for land acquisition of Ring Road, work on land acquisition had been started.

“A meeting of all patwaris (land revenue officials) was held in RDA offices on Sunday and the Director Land asked them to submit the details of land to the RDA,” he said.

He said the Punjab government would provide funds for the project as it would be constructed under Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). However, in the current fiscal year, no fund has been allocated for the project.

“The RDA is working on the PC-I which would be submitted to Punjab Development Working Party (PDWP) for consideration in the next meeting,” he said.

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2021

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