The failure on the part of City District Government and Lahore Development Authority to monitor private housing schemes, provide room to fraudsters to go into ‘disappearance with booty’.
“The departments concerned publish the lists of bogus housing schemes in newspapers, declaring them as illegal and giving advice to people to avoid purchase of plots there, after the owners of these bogus colonies disappear following their crime spree,” said Faheem, a victim of the illegal business. Though the CDG and the LDA pledge compensation and initiated legal actions, the illegal business booms.
“The government departments and agencies are responsible for promoting this unlawful activity whereby the land mafia loots the innocent citizens,” alleged Raheel, a victim of a scam of a private housing colony of a famous group of developers on Multan Road.
He said the developers are not showing the site plan of the announced second phase though they are bound to give possession of plot after the completion of two-year payment plan. “Like fraudsters, developers of genuine housing schemes have also been also deceiving people by either allotting or selling one file to more than one customer,” he alleged.
Najeeb Ahmad cited the example of the LDA Employees Housing Colony, saying that dozens of victims were awaiting compensation and justice. “They have made a complaint to the authorities concerned about the fraud, but to no avail,” he added.
Muhammad Junaid, another victim of a bogus scheme on Raiwind Road, said that he had been paying installments for a plot for the past decade, but the owners of the colony were reluctant to give demarcation of the plot.
According to sources, the land mafia went on rampage because of negligence on the part of government.
They added that the land mafia had launched dozens of private housing colonies in the city after getting approval by the authorities concerned and showing a site plan of the announced housing schemes.
The authorities concerned, including the Punjab Cooperative Housing Society (PCHS), LDA, and Town Municipal Authority (TMA) of City District Government Lahore (CDGL), are helpless in taking stern action because of absence of “proper legislation” to check this fraud across the province, a PCHS official said on condition of anonymity.
“To rein in the land mafia, the government must formulate comprehensive policies and enact concrete laws,” he suggested.
A CDGL official said on condition of anonymity that though the laws existed for checking this business, the LDA authorities had not enough power to award exemplary punishments to the land mafia. He alleged that some government officials were supporting the land mafia.
“The legal action will be initiated against such schemes, which will be challaned by the magistrates under section 33 and 38 of the LDA Act 1975 and CDGL Bylaws under which the magistrates could penalise the developers or owners of any illegally developed housing colony or scheme with one month imprisonment and at least Rs15,000 fine every month till the developers fulfill the legal requirements.” they added.
Giving details about, 99 illegal housing schemes, they said that developers of these colonies neither applied for getting any legal status nor submitted any scheme plan under which they are bound to prove their ownership/title by enclosing transfer letter of the land acquired by the owners on their name.
Muhammad Zaheer, an office manager of a private housing colony on Raiwind Road (enlisted as illegal by the LDA), said that all the schemes were not plundering the citizens.