Public especially overseas Pakistanis warned against fake housing societies involved in biggest scandal in Pakistan, detailed report submitted to Supreme Court
Nation special report
ISLAMABAD: Housing industry is one of those industries in Pakistan which is root cause of corruption and main tool of exploitation of rich and poor both people. It is revealed that thousands of housing schemes are illegal and majority of them are merely on paper.
The sources, disclosing this huge scam have advised public especially the overseas Pakistanis to be aware of their fraud and never invest until satisfy with the available documents.
The Supreme Court was informed on Wednesday (October 17) that 5,492 housing societies in the country were still unregistered, illegal or only on papers, while the number of registered or licensed housing schemes stood at 3,432.
According to media reports, a report furnished before a three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, said that of the total unregistered or illegal housing societies/schemes, 4,098 were in Punjab, 1,066 in Sindh, 208 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 115 in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) and five in Balochistan.
Similarly, of the 3,432 registered societies, 2,620 were companies and 812 cooperative societies, said the report furnished by Additional Attorney General Nayyar Abbas Rizvi.
The court was informed that forensic audit of 2,690 housing societies had been completed so far. The forensic audit of housing schemes/societies has been conducted on the orders of the Supreme Court which had on May 8 last year set up a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the matter.
The report observed that a majority of the approved housing societies had made several changes to their approved plans without permission of the authorities concerned and some of these societies even had sold the land meant for graveyards in the shape of plots to the general public, and in some cases because of extension of these societies, the graveyard lands were continuously shifting.
Moreover, in a society, the electricity connection approved for it is being used in the society’s extension also without payment of new demand notices, the report said, adding that in many cases approval of housing societies/schemes had been accorded without meeting planning standard i.e. five per cent land reserved for the commercial area.
In some cases, the report said, gas, electricity and other utilities/amenities were not available and balloting of plots had been done without the approval by the regulator.
Moreover, the report noted, development work had not been completed in the prescribed timeline under the rules and some societies had been set up even without purchasing land. In some housing schemes, there were no paved roads and some had damaged roads. Some of the schemes, the report said, had partial boundary walls, with partial security and sewerage systems.
In the case of unlicensed housing societies, the report said, their offices had been established inside the societies and they were selling plots without approval of the authorities concerned. Such housing schemes, the report said, were operating on temporary agriculture connections of electricity from Wapda, but they were advertising through billboards and electronic media.
The report also highlighted that 26 housing societies had moved to the high court, challenging the forensic audit.
Regarding the Aug 17 fire incident at the Punjab Provincial Cooperative Bank Limited, Mall Road, Lahore, a different inquiry report, furnished by the additional inspector general of Punjab police, said that the state of affairs at the bank was very bleak.
The report said that the entire department depicted a picture of utter neglect by the respective authorities for decades and there was likelihood of unfathomable corruption spanning over the last 25 to 30 years.
At present the bank owned properties worth Rs7 billion across the province and these properties should be considered for auction as many of these properties were illegally occupied by tenants.
The bank, the report said, had been unable to get these properties legally vacated or get market rent/lease money from private parties. The open auction of these properties, the report said, was likely to fetch more than Rs10 billion to the Punjab government.
Moreover, the report said, the role of the bank had gradually shifted from extending help to small farmers and entrepreneurs to pure commercial banking and it should be revisited. The report suggested formation of a high-powered committee to thoroughly investigate the affairs of the cooperative department.