“Naya Nazimabad is being developed as a sporting centre to nurture the talent in cricket, football and other games,” said Arif Habib Group Chairman Arif Habib in June this year. He was talking at the launch of the Naya Nazimabad Ramazan Cup Cricket Tournament 2015 at the Lawai Stadium in Naya Nazimabad. This was the third edition of the tournament. As many as 16 teams were battling for the Rs 700,000 prize money. Among those attending the event were former Pakistan captain Moin Khan, former chief selector and test player Iqbal Qasim as well as top officials from Naya Nazimabad and Javedan Corporation.
Arif Habib announced on the occasion that his conglomerate intended to play a significant role in the promotion of sports in general and cricket in particular in the country. Habib said that Lawai Cricket Stadium in Naya Nazimabad was being developed in such a manner that they would be able to host international matches in not too distant a future. He offered it to the PCB as an alternative to the National Stadium.
Barely two months after the event, there was a hiccup.
It was revealed that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was conducting enquiries against government officials as well as private persons involved with the Naya Nazimabad scheme on charges of corruption, corrupt practices, illegal allotment of government lands and misuse of authority.
Arif Habib Group, however, slogged on with the project. Even as another ‘illegal construction’ Moon Gardens barely avoided demolition after the Supreme Court stepped in suspending the Sindh High Court decision on Wednesday, construction work on the disputed land of Naya Nazimabad is still going on. The apex court asked Moon Gardens to submit Rs 100 million, half in cash, the other half in bank guarantees.
Record of the Sindh government’s revenue department shows that the Naya Nazimabad housing project is bogus and fraudulent as the project land is the property of the provincial government and not that of the builder’s.
All the fraudulent entries in the official record were cancelled in January 2013 by the Department of Sindh Board of Revenue ‘Directorate of Settlement and Survey and Land Record Sindh’.
Director of Settlement and Survey and Land Record Sindh Umar Farooq Bullo has issued an order of cancellation of Ghat Wadh Form Number 35 through his letter no GD/SSK/306 of 2013. Ghat Wadh Form Number 35 pertains to the Naya Nazimabad project.
According to the Sindh Revenue Department, ‘Ghat Wadh Form’ means ‘Less More form’. When any land is allotted, leased or sanctioned to any person or party, a Ghat Wadh form and a map is issued in favour of that person or party by the Settlements Survey and Land Record Sindh. The form shows in official record the land allotted or leased to the private person as well as the corresponding reduction in the state land (‘ghat’).
In January 2013, on the directions of revenue authorities the land of Naya Nazimabad (M/s Javedan Cement limited), a total area of 703.28 acres (from NC No. 70, 71 and 33 of Deh Mangho Pir), was demarcated and surveyed and Ghat Wadh Form No 35 issued creating new survey numbers 197 to 263.
But while the revenue record shows the land as the property of Naya Nazimabad, the survey record (according to the field book of Settlements Survey and Land Record Sindh department) shows that the land actually belongs to the state (Na-Kabooli).
On the report of the field officers on January 22, 2013 and after further verifications, Settlements Survey and Land Record Sindh director was asked to cancel the Ghat Wadh form 35 on January 29, 2013.
Settlements Survey and Land Record Sindh Director at the time Umar Farooq Bullo issued an order for the cancellation of the Ghat Wadh form with a note asked the relevant officials to ensure that such practices are not repeated in the future and that new serial numbers are issued only after complete verification.
Documentary evidence reveals that a Rad Ghat Wadh form (Cancellation of less more Form) along with the map showing the cancellation of the fraudulently transferred land of the Naya Nazimabad housing project was issued on the same day.
Revenue laws stipulate that if Ghat Wadh form on any land proves false, or has been cancelled and a Rad Ghad Wadh form has been issued by the competent authority, then all the other land records shall be considered null and void as the survey record is the basic record for any land or property.
Well-placed sources told Pakistan Today that after the issuance of the Rad Ghat Wadh form, Sindh government should have to immediately ban the housing project in the interest of Sindh government and the general public, which had already invested millions of rupees in the fraudulent housing project. But due to political influence of the ‘owners’ of the fraudulent project, no action has been taken yet and construction work continues unabated.
The sources added that the management of Naya Nazimabad not only caused the loss of nearly Rs 100 billion to national exchequer by occupying and then launching a posh housing scheme on Sindh government’s land, but the investors who purchased the plots, bungalows, houses and cottages could also lose their investment of billions of rupees.
The land in question had been sold by the old Privatization Commission to Javedan Cement Limited (JCL); over a thousand acres of land was sold to Haji Ghani Usman and Shunaid Qureshi in September 2005 for just Rs 4.3 billion.
But the ‘Colonization of government lands act 1912’, of Sindh government says that the Privatization Commission or any authority had no right to sell or allot the state land because the Sindh government is the real owner of the state land within the limits of the province and the said 1,200 plus acres of land was allotted to Javedan Cement limited for a certain purpose for a period of 30 years, which have also expired now.
The law further says that any land within the premises of the Sindh province can only be allotted by the collector of the area or Sindh Board of Revenue after fulfilling the all formalities and legal procedures.
According to official record, revenue officials had raised the objection regarding the illegal conversion of Sindh government land, but the then Executive District Officer (EDO) Revenue Karachi Sajjad Abbasi, allegedly due to political pressure and after getting huge kickbacks passed a judicial order in favour of JCL management.
Following these revelations, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) started its enquiry into the Naya Nazimabad project and recorded statements of all the relevant officials and collected documentary evidences regarding the fraud.
But after getting the judicial order from Sajjad Abbasi, Shunaid Qureshi and Haji Ghani managed to transfer majority of Javedan shares to Arif Habib and Akeel Karim Dhedhi (AKD). They stopped producing cement and converted 1,200 acres of land into a posh housing society worth over Rs 100 billion.
Despite knowledge of the clear violation of law in converting the land into a residential area, Sindh Building Control Authority Chief Manzoor Qadir Kaka, who later escaped abroad, approved the site plan, maps and all other necessary formalities immediately.
Apart from illegal occupation of land, Naya Nazimabad also managed to get hundreds of acres of mining land which had been temporarily leased to Javedan Cement, for quarry purposes only and converted it into residential land despite the objection of the Sindh Mining Department.
The Sindh Mining Department also issued several notices to builders of Naya Nazimabad but the latter did not respond. Mining department then constituted an inquiry committee, which concluded that Builders of Naya Nazimabad had encroached on hundreds of acres of mining land.
But, when the Supreme Court asked the Sindh government for land records in its suo moto notice of similar dubious transactions, Naya Nazimabad was not on the list submitted by the Sindh government to the apex court.
Taking to Pakistan Today, Naya Nazimabad Project Chairman Arif Habib said that NAB had started investigation of the multi-billion rupees housing project following objection from the group’s competitors. “NAB sought details and records of the project and on provision of the record, NAB has dropped investigation by issuing a clearance certificate,” he claimed.
He further said that some people were trying to create the impression that the project land of Naya Nazimabad was actually mining land and that it had been handed over to the builder on a 30-year lease. “We have cleared this impression successfully. The project land of Naya Nazimabad is not mining land, and it was handed over to us on 99-year lease,” he maintained.
At the launch of the third edition of the Ramzan cricket tournament in August, Habib, after offering Lawai Stadium as an alternative to the National Stadium, had announced the construction of a football stadium, a hockey stadium and an indoor sports complex in Naya Nazimabad. The Ghat Wadh form of the project had been cancelled in January 2013, which means that when the first edition of the tournament was launched, the project was already illegal. The Naya Nazimabad project has had a good run, may be Habib will get to build all the stadiums he wants to build after all.