KARACHI Sep 23,2021- Sindh High Court on Friday, dismissed citizen’s plea to increase sentence in Lines Area Redevelopment Project case.
The SHC heard the matter of corruption and illegal appointments in the Lines Area Redevelopment Project. The petitions are related to appeal against the sentences of the accused and plea of the citizen to increase the sentences of the accused.
The accused include Tahir Jamil Durrani, Atta Abbas, Shahid Umar, Farid Naseem, Farid Ahmad Yousifani and Wasim Iqbal.
Lines Area is bounded by M A Jinnah Road (North), Shahra-e-Faisal (South), Sindhi Muslim Housing Society and PECHS (East) and Saddar on (West). The LARP is responsible for developing 462 acres of its land which has been divided into eight sectors.
Two accused including Wasim Iqbal have completed the sentence in prison, the court was told.
The accused deserve bail and should be released on bail during the appeal hearing, counsel of the accused prayed.
A citizen named Raees had filed a petition against the accused and the NAB.
Petitioner’s lawyer Dr Ashiq Advocate said that NAB officials have mutual understanding with the accused, as 317 plots illegally allotted under Lines Area Redevelopment Project, were not made part of reference against the accused persons.
Petitioner’s counsel presented a list of 317 plots in the court.
The petition said that the degrees of the accused are also fake and they were illegally posted on these positions in Lines Area Redevelopment Project and added that the accused got promoted themselves to various positions through forgery.
In 2016, Senator Tanveerul Haq Thanvi also raised the issue in the Senate.
Instead of open auction of commercial plots worth crores of rupees, the accused gave them to their favourite persons, hence the accused caused loss of crores of rupees to the exchequer.
The sentences of the accused should be increased and these allegations should also be included in the investigation.
NAB Prosecutor said that his institution did not support citizen’s request and added that no new material can be presented in the same case after a verdict has been pronounced in a case.
Under NAB rules, citizens have the right to provide material to the Chairman NAB, not to the court, the NAB lawyer.
In June 2016, National Accountability Bureau arrested five high-ranking officials of the Lines Area development project. The arrested officials include Deputy Directors Lines Area development project Farid Naseem and Shahid Umer, Additional Directors Atta Abbas and Rashid Nasim, and Director Waseem Iqbal.
The five officials were accused of china-cutting 1,200 plots worth Rs4.5 billion and selling them to builders and land grabbing mafia. The plots were allegedly sold for bribes instead of being auctioned.
The agencies suspected that the money was used for terrorism and financing terrorists.
Lines Area Redevelopment Project
Lines Area Redevelopment Project in its present form was established 40 years ago in 1981 (Gen Zia era) as KDA scheme 35.
In 1973, KDA notified LARP as a project to address the rehabilitation of Lines Area. In 1980, the project was converted into an independent organization, headed by an executive committee and an authorized board and was eventually launched in 1981 as a self-financing initiative.
The project was based on eight sectors of the Lines Area originally, and aimed to complete development work on four roads and bulldoze squat lanes. It was also a resettlement project aiming to develop its congested streets and relocating the habitants from narrow settlements to a new location.
A committee was formed with two elected councilors and a government official to survey and monitor the documents of the residents who owned houses in the area.
According to the layout plan, 12 thousand plots of LERP were be given to five thousand families with the purpose of relocating them.
Residents settled there were categorized by their ownership validity, which were scrutinized and verified by the LARP. The families, who were to be displaced by the project were divided into three categories based on ration cards, NCC, National Identity Card. Families which fall under category A, will get 45 yards plot within the Lines Area and families in category B will be given 60 yards out of the area.
Commercial plot holders were included in category C for the provision of 8 yards and they will get 16 yards and 32 yards of commercial plots in nearby areas.
Saddar Dawakhana till the end of Mazaar Quaid
As per plan of the project, Preedy Street starting from Saddar Dawakhana till the end of Mazaar Quaid, it was completed during the tenure of former City Nazim, Mustafa Kamal. 1,460 displaced families, out of 17, 640, were rehabilitated in Mehmoodabad at that time.
Relocating and rehabilitating rest of the families remained suspended because of corruption, as the officials allotted and transferred the plots unfairly, not providing it to those residents who were eligible for the purpose.