JUL 4, 2018 (BE2C2): The anti-corruption watchdog has initiated an inquiry into alleged illegal allotment of 3,167 acres of state-owned commercial and industrial lands valuing around Rs70 billion (US$600 million) in Gwadar to private individuals.
According to an official statement issued on Tuesday by the National Accountability Bureau, its Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal has sought a comprehensive report within 15 days from the director general of NAB Balochistan about alleged illegal allotment by the Gwadar Industrial Estate Development Authority (GIEDA) — Gwadar development project is the crown jewel of China Pakistan Economic Corridor and is at the center of national and international attention.
Rules were allegedly violated in the allotment of plots which had caused a loss of billions of rupees to the Balochistan government, the statement said — over the years Gwadar’s real estate prices have jumped by more than 400 percent because of CPEC and related developments.
“The plots were distributed among blue-eyed persons with the help of facilitators.” Furthermore, the files of industrial plots were sold on the basis of personal likes and dislikes by rejecting the applications of eligible industrialists and potential investors.”
According to local daily Dawn citing sources, some NAB officials believe that instead of playing the role of an industrial development authority, GIEDA acts as an estate agency.
They said the initial scrutiny of the record had found that rules were violated by GIEDA in the allotment of commercial and industrial plots.
They said commercial and industrial plots in the port city were being allotted on the basis of favoritism and applications of eligible industrialists and potential investors were being rejected.
According to the Business Recorder daily newspaper editorial in January, press reports have revealed that some 12,000 acres of state land were illegally allotted to certain individuals with the support of politically influential people and in connivance of revenue officials. Illegality of the activity was challenged in the relevant forum and the land was restored to the government.
Still, some of the beneficiaries of this largesse wouldn’t give up and approached the revenue authorities and managed to grab back 3,167 acres of state land from a helpful senior member of the Revenue Board, the paper wrote.
“The giveaway, once again, was challenged and suspended by the Board sitting in full strength, and later the suspension was upheld by the High Court. The affair is full of deceit and fraud. As the court remarked “nobody knows how the settled land owned by the state has been transferred to the private sector that too for peanuts”.
The court also made the unsurprising observation that “the provincial government and the Board of Revenue cannot be absolved of their responsibility in this regard.”