LAHORE: Punjab Senior Minister Mian Aslam Iqbal has come out swinging against former party stalwart Aleem Khan and his real estate housing project Park View Society. In a press conference held at 90 Mall Road Lahore, Iqbal alleged that the housing scheme had committed a fraud worth Rs 250-300 billion.

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The project has been a contentious issue for several years and took a political turn after Aleem Khan left the PTI and switched allegiance to the PML-N during the brief tenure of Hamza Shehbaz as chief minister. The origin of the project can be traced back to the early 2000s when Multan Road and Ferozepur Road became very attractive for new housing societies. River Edge Housing Society was started as a project by a developer named Amar Khan in 2004. Two years later he got approval from the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) to start his work. At that time the total land owned by this society was approximately 765 kanals according to the documents.

A company named Vision Developers Private Limited, owned by Abdul Aleem Khan, bought River Edge in 2010 and immediately renamed it Park View Villas. This is where the question started. According to a source in the Lahore Development Authority (LDA), in 2012, Vision Developers requested the LDA to proceed with the project in the Authority’s Revised Master Plan. “Since the said housing project also included agricultural land in the project area, the LDA refused to go ahead with it.” Park View Villas then presented its case to the then Housing Secretary Punjab, who also made it clear that the said project is being built on green land as per the LDA Master Plan of 2004, which being old and later revised was not may be allowed. “It should not expand an inch beyond 765 channels,” the source said.

The current situation – according to the government

At the press conference, Iqbal raised this contentious issue on 765 channels. The allegation against Aleem Khan is that he used his influence with the LDA to expand the project beyond what was legal and roped in a number of unwanted investors who were impressed by his hefty marketing budget.

“Any housing society can be formed only according to an original master plan, but the land mafia cheated people by selling 15,000 to 16,000 additional plots in the green area,” he said. “River Edge Housing Society is approved only on 765 kanals of land and nothing can be built even within an inch of it. In this regard, the case is in the court, but the development works here are brazenly carried out by this mafia.

This is actually quite typical of how real estate works in Pakistan. Developers buy a certain amount of land and create a master plan based on it, but then sell it as much larger projects and sell plots beyond their means. They then use these funds to acquire the rest of the land which can take much longer to tie up investors’ money.

“Indiscriminate action is being taken against illegal housing societies and file sellers of surplus plots across Punjab. These mafias have become so powerful that they don’t care about the courts and the government. If legal action is taken against them, they torture the employees of the institutions,” claimed Iqbal.

He also alleged that the subsidized power received for tube wells on agricultural land was sold to the residents of the society and LESCO is suffering a loss of Rs 40 million per month while this power theft has been going on for the last 16 years.

“LDA (Lahore Development Authority) has sent 17 notices to the owner of this illegal society and NAB has also taken notice but this land mafia does not care about it. He [Aleem Khan] he stole the land of the plots of the poor in his society and built a mosque in the name of his father and then he also built the grave of his father and mother on the LDA land. He also sold more than ten kanals of graveyards as a commercial plot and fraudulently declared Christian graveyards as his society’s graveyards.”



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