KARACHI: The inquiry ordered by the government of Punjab regarding the Rawalpindi Ring Road project has revealed misconduct and unlawful conduct by several officials, including deputy commissioners, who connived with the real estate players to temper prices of land linked to the road.
“It was a clear misconduct and abuse of power by officials and against the directives of the prime minister,” said sources sharing inquiry report with The Correspondent. “It seems that it was a planned teamwork between the government officials and private real estate players.”
It started with unauthorised alignment of Ring Road, the extension towards the route not included in the original plan and, above all, the initiation of land acquisition and payments from the public funds, sources added. The number of speculative gains received by the private players can’t be ascertained at this point, sources added.
The inquiry report also includes the names and designations of the officials involved in this misconduct in the list of beneficiaries. This list also includes names of real estate societies involved in the scam.
The report concluded with the recommendation and request to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to proceed against Muhammed Mahmood, ex-commissioner, and LAC Waseem Ali Tabish over willfully disbursing more than Rs2.3 billion for illegal land acquisition on illegal alignment despite clear opposition of the P&D department in absence of approval of the alignment. This expenditure is made to benefit the core members of “Attock Loop Rent-Seeking Syndicate” which can be connected through further investigation by the NAB.
The inquiry report suggested that all the persons and entities grouped as the Rent Seeking Syndicate may be investigated for criminal liability. It said the further proceedings in investigations is likely to reveal the interest of the people and entities involved.
The inquiry report also requested the relevant authorities in the armed forces to probe the issue of use of name of sensitive national security organisation by Col (r) Asim Ibrahim Paracha, and his interest and link with the matter.
The report also pointed out need to investigate role of Major General (r) Saleem Ishaque related to the matter.
The inquiry was initiated when Rawalpindi Commissioner Gulzar Hussain Shah submitted a report recommending NAB to probe Rs2.3 billion spent unlawfully by former commissioner and former LAC in the illegal acquisition of land for ring road.
However, they denied the allegations saying that there was no illegal activity at any stage of the project.
Last week, the government had removed six officers of the district administrations of Rawalpindi and Attock in connection with changes made to the alignment of Ring Road. The move had increased the cost of the project by Rs25 billion and also benefitted housing societies in the area.
The scandal has already cost Zulfi Bukhari his job as the special assistant to the prime minister on overseas Pakistanis as he had to step down following the allegations against him and his family.