ISLAMABAD: Transparency International (TI) Pakistan has written a letter on Friday to the Chair of the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) against alleged corruption by the KPT Estate Department to allow the sale of Rs land worth Rs 450 million by KPT tenants in May 2020 after the expiration of the lease in March 2019.
Pakistan IT Chairman Sohail Muzaffar said in the letter that the buyer had issued a public notice on May 11, 2020, in a leading newspaper asking for objections within seven days of purchasing the KPT property from the tenants.
TI Pakistan believes that the initial grant in the form of a five-year lease on the KPT property covering 4,466 square meters for Karachi Steel Industries is irregular because it contradicts the prohibition imposed by the then prime minister on temporary land allotment of the DTL in May 2014.
The letter asked the chair of the KPT to act against the relevant officials in the case under Part 9 of the 1999 National Accountability Ordinance.
The letter showed that the lease of 4,466 square meters of KPT’s No. 16 West Wharf road in Karachi ended March 31, 2019, and its sale by Karachi Steel Industries Pvt Ltd was illegal prima facie.
The initial allotment was only three months but the KPT Council extended it for five years on November 27, 2014, despite a ban imposed by the prime minister. Even the KPT Planning and Development Division gave NOC for five years only 1,000 square meters, but the KPT Board extended it to 4,466 square meters by its own procedure.
TI Pakistan noted that the KPT estate department did not take over its property according to the terms of the lease even after the expiration of the illegal lease in March 2019.
The letter also shows that there is a large amount of litigation involving billions of billions of KPT land due to the mistakes of its own employees. In a letter in early 2017, TI Pakistan had pointed to such manipulation in which the plantation division of the KPT was under its manual allocation, the land of the KPT for a temporary period of three months. Then, departments and influential parties won on the KPT Board to extend the temporary rationing for 25 years. And those who temporarily canceled the rationing received orders to stay overnight from the court and continue to use the KPT land. That is what led the prime minister to ban the May 2014 temporary allotment of KPT land. In 2014 regarding Pakistan’s IT complaint, the KPT canceled the 12 plots that were given arbitrarily. TI Pakistan has urged to auction off KPT land under an open bid transparently.
The Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi, when contacted about Pakistan’s IT letter, stated that he had told the KPT management to propose a comprehensive policy on new leases and renewal of KPT land leases and related matters due to complaints and litigation about it. . He said the focus was on transparency and non-discriminatory treatment of all cases related to KPT land. He said that the new policy would ensure the best value for KPT land and increase business related activities. Zaidi added that as far as special cases in the IT letter, the KPT management would respond according to the law.
KPT Chairperson Rear Admiral Jamil Akhtar, while opposing the facts in Pakistan’s TI letter, stated that the land had never been included in the category of temporary rationing long before partitioning, so the PM’s temporary rationing ban did not apply. He added that this lease of land had been extended on 31 January 2019, long before the expiry of the lease for 25 years and the question of failure to take over the land did not arise. He further stated that if the KPT land was sold by the lessee, the plot transfer was carried out after the approval of the KPT Board after payment of the transfer fee and there was nothing unusual if the lessee sold to another party. Land rights always remain with the KPT for the duration of the lease in such cases. He added that the Maritime Ministry had banned new allotments to improve criteria and processes and only extension cases were being processed. And that the KPT has won 250 of the 500 KPT land cases in different courts in the past two and a half years that have been delayed for years.