public assets in Bahawalpur – Dubious sale irks Senate body

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ISLAMABAD – The Senate’s functional committee on less-developed areas on Wednesday expressed concern over the “dubious” sale of 39 public properties in Bahawalpur at throwaway prices by the Punjab government and vowed to conduct a thorough inquiry into the matter. The meeting, which was held with chairman Dr Abdul Malik in the chair, out rightly rejected the notion of the Punjab government over the auction of lands worth above Rs 40 billion for only Rs 851 million and resolved to probe into the matter properly or even referring the case to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Senators Mir Mohammad Ali Rind, Haji Mohammad Adeel, Mohammad Ali Durrani, Nawabzada Lashkeri Raisani, and Wali Mohammad Badini attended the meeting. Chairman of the Punjab Privatisation Board, Chauhdry Safdar Hussain, Board Secretary Mohammad Ashiq and member Board of Revenue Tariq Mahmood contended that the Punjab chief minister had authorised the privatisation of lands in Bahawalpur and the entire process had been carried out per law.
Haji Adeel said the privatisation of government land was a “sale” aimed at promoting the culture of landlords. Expressing disbelief over the justification of selling the Feroza Rest House, the committee questioned why a letter by the Fisheries chief engineer against the sale was not considered. It also argued that how was the rest house sold for Rs 70 million when the market price for a similar asset was above Rs 400 million.
Punjab government officials said all the required SOPs were completed before the sale of these lands, but Haji Adeel reminded the officials that the previous government had followed all bureaucratic process during the sale of Pakistan Steel Mills, but the chief justice of Pakistan had turned down the privitaisation. Haji Adeel said the source of income of those who had purchased these lands should be brought forth.
Former naib nazim of Feroza Town Waheed Arshad and Chaudhry Shaukat Ali Asim advocate also briefed the committee on the irregularities committed during the sale of government lands.