By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: In its first punitive action, the government has suspended two officials in the recently-unearthed scam in which a former MQM minister is alleged to have doled out through bogus certificates more than 3,050 government houses/quarters worth Rs 450 billion in Karachi on his own and without any government approved policy.
Minister for Housing and Works Rahmatullah Kakar told this correspondent on Monday that he had suspended Ghulam Abbas Baloch, the then Estate Officer, and Sohail Sarwar, the then Estate Office in-charge Karachi, for their alleged involvement in this scam.
The minister disclosed that the case had been referred to the Law Ministry for its advice as to how to get the property back from those who were awarded bogus ownership eligibility certificates by the authorities. Kakar revealed that the matter would also be referred to the National Assembly parliamentary committee to fix the responsibility.
The minister said that he had initiated disciplinary proceedings against the concerned after The News recently reported the matter. Asked if the government had cancelled the eligibility certificates issued to the occupants of 3,050 government houses/quarters in Karachi without lawful authority, he wondered if the government needed to issue such orders against an action that was all fake and bogus. He said the government got the value of the said property assessed, which stood at Rs 450 billion.
Secretary Housing and Works Abdul Rauf Chaudhry recently told this correspondent while the former prime minister constituted a committee to discuss a proposal for issuing ownership eligibility certificates to the occupants of government houses having long stay in Islamabad and Karachi, the then Minister Syed Safwanullah had issued the proposed certificates on his own and without waiting for the approval of the policy.
The secretary housing said that several of those issued bogus certificates had already sold out the government property. The government-owned residential accommodation in question is located at Jahangir Road, Martin Road, Clayton Road, Jamshed Quarters, Patel Para and Pakistan Quarters.
As already reported, Safwanullah, however, said that the title of the properties in question was not changed rather only the ownership eligibility certificates were issued. It was the fact finding report of the incumbent Estate Officer Sher Afzal Khan, submitted on Feb 12, 2008, that had informed the government of serious blunders committed in the process leading to the issuance of eligibility of ownership certificates.
Source: The News, 18/4/2008