LAHORE: The Lahore Development Authority (LDA) has started construction of a road (structure plan road) allegedly to benefit few influential people on the pretext of connecting a couple of areas with the New Defence Road.

Sources say an LDA chief engineer also purchased a piece of land through his frontmen so as to get the instant benefit of getting his land commercialised “as a reward for allowing passing of the road through it”.

LDA Director General Muhammad Ali Randhawa has ordered a probe and demanded a fact-finding report, Dawn has learnt.

“It is a big scam as there is apparently no need to build this road on the pretext of connecting a couple of localities with the New Defence Road. It is also interesting that these localities already have link with the road through their own right of way as well as the engineering town and some other spots.

“Why construction of this road (especially the portion measuring over one kilometre), originating from Nespak Housing Society (Phase-III), has been launched on a fast track. The site of the road is situated near Shanu Baba Chowk, Valencia Town, Khyaban-e-Amin, DHA Rehbar (Sector-1, 2), Engineers Town and other know residential areas),” an official source privy to the development told Dawn on Tuesday.

“The people living in the area or those engaged in the construction also talk about purchase of a piece of land by a chief engineer of LDA through his frontmen in a bid to not only get the benefit of getting front of its land commercialised but also adding value to his entire property,” said the official who requested anonymity.

The LDA (Chief Engineer-1, Urban Development Wing) through advertisement published in the print media in April invited the landowners, investors etc to give their land free of cost for the road under the land acquisition act. It also pledged to commercialise their land, facing / abutting the road (equalling the acquired portions) without any cost. Khasra numbers of several pieces of land, where the road is to pass through, were also mentioned in the advertisement.

Surprisingly, the tender for construction of this road for Rs95.331 million was also floated under title “Construction of missing links of structural plan road from Chaudhry Road to Defence Road” last month. And the construction work was launched by the engineering wing the same month by awarding the contract to a firm of its choice without adopting a proper and competitive tendering process.

“Before launch of the construction, the LDA neither bothered to hold a public hearing to question the commercialisation rights given to the landowners against their land. Moreover, other procedural works were also violated just to start construction by hook or by crook,” said another official source.

He also criticised the LDA for promoting unnecessary commercialisation that not only disrupts city’s routine business but also increases environmental pollution.

“They (the LDA) should also have obtained NOC from the environment department, Wasa and other respective agencies. But it didn’t do so to benefit the influential people,” said the source.

A visit to the site revealed that the construction of the road was under way. The demolition of some structures is also expected to be done in a day or two as the labourers were found preparing groundwork.

“We launched construction work around two weeks ago. And we will complete it by end of this month,” said an engineer of a private construction firm.

A worker said the road would pass through pieces of land owned by some private people including property dealers.

“I have heard that a piece of land is owned by an LDA official,” he told this reporter.

LDA DG Muhammad Ali Randhawa said he would take action if any wrong existed on the part of LDA engineering wing (1).

“I have sought a reply from the chief engineer (1) on your queries and also ordered a thorough probe into this issue through a fact-finding inquiry to be conducted by senior officials of LDA,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2022

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