ABOUT 30 years ago, in April 1993, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) had launched the Landhi Cottage Industry Project and through newspapers invited applications from unemployed youths. The project was aimed at provi- ding decent employment opportunities to the unemployed.
Thousands of young people had responded to the scheme and bought the application forms at a non-refundable payment of Rs100 per form. This resulted in a remarkable income worth millions of rupees to the KMC. Computerised balloting for plots of land, each measuring 200 square yards, was held on July 20, 1993, and 2,334 applicants were declared successful. The KMC received the remaining amount totalling over Rs50 million from the successful allottees, and has been making profit to date.
I was one of the allottees and made full payment to the KMC. I planned to set up a small garment factory, which would provide employment to 15 persons and also generate revenue in the form of taxes for the government. However, since the allotment, we have been visiting the relevant KMC department to no positive effect.
The victims of the project have highlighted the issue several times in the national media. This simply results in statements by KMC administrator, mayor, provincial governor and the relevant officers. Beyond the statements, no practical action has ever been taken.
Two years ago, the Karachi office of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had advertised in the newspapers about various schemes, including the Cottage Industry Project, asking victims to file claims. I also submitted the application with documentary evidence, but nothing happened beyond that either.
Now 30 years after the initial allotment, the young allottees have become senior citizens, but their wait to take possession of their land is still young, it seems. It has been reported in newspapers that illegal encroachments have cropped up on the project land. Should it surprise anybody?
The authorities concerned, especially those in the running for the slot of the city mayor, should take this matter seriously and have the encroachments removed. It will be nice if somehow that land could finally be handed over to the ill-fated who paid for it years ago.
Sheikh Muhammad Ishaq
Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2023
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