LAHORE: The Lahore Development Authority (LDA) has failed to retrieve the 195 shops which are under illegal possession in block 7 of sector B-1 Jinnah Market of Quaid-e-Azam Town scheme Lahore despite several meetings held in this regard, Pakistan Today has learnt.
The audit office report states, “The audit office had conducted a performance audit of LDA about encroachment and their removal for the year 2016-17, during the audit the matter of illegal occupancy of 195 shops in Jinnah Market Phase-2, Quaid-e-Azam Town Scheme has been pointed out vide PDP No. 30. On May 3, 2019, a meeting was conducted with the audit team under the chairmanship of Additional Secretary (A&H), HUD & PHE Department in the office of Secretary Housing. The Addl. Secretary and the audit team has stressed for taking actions against the illegal encroachers of Jinnah Market. Similarly, vide letter No. 1(33)HQ/Complaints/DA/02/18/NAB-L dated 20-2-2019, the Additional Director for Director General NAB, Lahore has referred the complaint for appropriate action regarding illegal possession of shops in Jinnah Market Phase-2, Quaid-e-Azam Town, Lahore”.
The report further states, “The facts of the case are that 195 out of 203 constructed shops measuring 8X10 each constructed in Block 7, sector B-I (Jinnah Market Phase II) are under illegal occupation. Seven (07) of these shops have already been disposed of through allotment by H&PP Department whereas one (01) shop was auctioned by LDA after taking charge of the scheme from H&PP Department”.
“The matter regarding these illegally occupied shops was placed initially before the Authority in its meeting held on June 26, 2002 which approved in principal that the structure should be demolished but before that the matter should be negotiated with the seven (07) allottees and a plan for future utility of the site should be prepared. The committee headed by Town Nazim, Nishtar Town, Chief Metropolitan Planner, Chief Engineer and Director Estate Management, QAT, LDA has been constituted”.
Later meetings were held on April 26, 2003, September 2, 2011, September 16, 2011, and December 21, 2011, in regard to the matter. The audit report goes on to state, “Meeting of the Committee was again convened on September 29, 2012, when the matter was discussed in detail and it was concluded that in view of on-ground situation, it was practically not possible to dispose of these shops through open auction with first right of refusal to the occupants. The committee was also of the view that as it was not a routine case and was of a complicated nature, it was required to be processed as a special case since forcible ejectment would result in a serious law and order situation which would severely disturb public tranquility and hamper the problematic situation for Administration and Government”.
The audit report also revealed, “The ex-CM Punjab vide order dt. 07.10.2011 has already approved to place these 195 encroached shops in open auction by giving first right of refusal to the encroachers to purchase the shops under their illegal occupation. However, as the Committee did not accomplish its task and even otherwise no longer remains functional with the dissolution of the previous Assembly in 2018”.
“The last Committee consisted of the following members with the mandate for determining the actual encroachers to whom the first right of refusal would be given Syed Zaeem Hussain Qadri, Director Finance LDA, Director Legal LDA, Director Estate Management QAT, LDA and in pursuance of the decision of ex-CM Punjab dt. 7-11-2011 Terms of Reference of the proposed committee were as under:” ‘the encroached shops of Jinnah Market (Phase-II) may be placed in open auction by giving the first right of refusal to the encroachers to purchase the shops under their illegal occupation. A committee may also be constituted for determining the actual encroacher to whom first right of refusal will be given’. The matter is placed before the Authority for reconstitution of a committee for identifying the actual encroachers at site or for any other decision that deems necessary in the best interests of this esteemed organization’.
According to sources, this matter has been under review for a long time but a solution is yet to emerge.
While talking to Pakistan Today the spokesperson LDA, Suhail Janjua said, “This matter was also put in the recent meeting of authority which was held in August 2019 but due to shortage of time it was not discussed”.