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NAB probing EOBI’s land purchase

July 05, 2012

ISLAMABAD, July 4: A former Defence Housing Authority (DHA) officer has set the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) probing another allegedly shady land deal involving the DHA, Bahria Town and the Employees Old-age Benefit Institution (EOBI).

“We visited the land today and found that it had been sold at a much higher price than the market rate to EOBI,” NAB’s regional director general Subh-i-Sadiq told Dawn on Wednesday.

Normally, the matter should be of no concern to NAB. But EOBI manages funds that government collects from the private sector employers for the welfare of their employees.

“It is commercial land, falling in the right-of-way of Islamabad Expressway, but the Rs16 billion EOBI paid for 321 kanals of it was too high a price,” said the ex-DHA officer Col (retired) Tariq Kamal.

His grouse is that the parties went ahead with the “shady deal” when he had already challenged the sale of 400 kanals of land by DHA to Bahria Town - of which 321 kanals the latter allegedly sold to EOBI - in the Rawalpindi bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) six months ago.

Col (retired) Kamal, who had earlier set NAB to investigate DHA Valley project, said the transaction between EOBI and Bahria Town took place last month.

EOBI spokesman Qamar Riaz, however, denied that the land deal had anything to do with Bahria Town. “We purchased the land directly from DHA,” he told Dawn.

He did not agree that the price paid - almost Rs50 million per kanal - was exorbitant. “It was approved as reasonable price by (EOBI’s) investment committee and Board of Trustees,” he said.

Bahria Town’s spokesperson Ms Nida said she was aware neither of the alleged shady land deal nor that NAB was investigating it.

Sources in the NAB directorate for Rawalpindi-Islamabad region said investigation was started after seeking documents from Col (retired) Kamal in support of his allegations.In his application to NAB, the ex-DHA officer informed that the 400 kanals in question had originally belonged to private housing scheme Commoners Town which was merged into the DHA in 2004.

Col (retired) Kamal says he only wanted to highlight wrong doings in the government institutions and has no personal axe to grind.

“The DHA illegally transferred that land to Bahria Town in 2009 which sold it further to EOBI on exorbitant price,” he said.

But surprisingly he added that “the disputed land had not been transferred in the name of Bahria Town and therefore it could not sell further to EOBI”.