Sindh: Railways land sold away for pennies

Pakistan Railways licensed or leased out a total of 849 acres of precious land at throwaway rates to 428 individuals in Sindh and in some cases failed to collect even a single penny as agreed under the deal from the leaseholders during the tenure of the present regime.

In 2013-14 when the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) led government took over, a total of 16.155 acres of land was leased out, which swelled to 280.349 acres of land in 2014-15. The following year, 2015-16, the area of the land leased out by the Pakistan Railways swelled to 346.50 acres of land while in 2016-17, a total of 206.84 acres of land was licensed or leased out to different individuals for different purposes. The National Assembly was informed in written reply in its last session.

 According to the written reply, the Pakistan Railway-owned land was leased out through competitive bidding for purposes, which includes agriculture, premium shops, parking stands and others. The land allotted for agriculture under the head of ‘cultivatable land’ was leased for three years and the ‘barren land’ was leased out for three years, which was extendable for another three years.

The land meant for shops were leased out for 10 years and the lease was extendable for five years till September 2014. However, the policy was revised in October 2014 and lease period was restricted to seven years only. The land for parking stands was leased by the railways on a yearly basis for the already developed stands whereas the land  for new parking sites had a fixed lease term at three years  and extendable for two years.

A lease was awarded of 150 square yards of an area for car parking in the jurisdiction of Karachi Cantonment to Sohail Khan for the period February 16, 2013 to February 15, 2015 against approved/accepted rate of Rs1, 262,000 but not a single rupee could be collected from him.

In the same period, Abdul Aziz was leased out space of 7,262 square yards in Tando Adam for car parking lot against the agreed amount of Rs150, 000. However, not a single penny could be recovered from him as agreed.

On the contrary, Liaquat Ali was leased out 2.80 acres of land for ‘cultivation’ for a span of three years starting from 2014 against the rate of Rs18, 500 and the agreed amount was recovered from him.

In Mirpurkhas, Ghulam Mustafa was given three acres of land as lease for the period from 2014 to 2017 for agriculture purposes against a meager amount of Rs10, 200 and fortunately the amount was recovered from him by the authority.

A lease was awarded to Abdul Rehman for five acres of land for agriculture for a period of three years from 2015 to 2018 near Tanvarai Shah, Garhi Khairo, at the rate of Rs16,000 per acre and only Rs50,000 could be recovered.

Muhammad Murad got a lease of two acres of land in Larkana (the TORs for period not mentioned) at the rate of Rs15, 200 per acres and only Rs4, 500 could be recovered whereas Nazar Muhammad got one acre of railways’ land for the purpose of agriculture against the contract of Rs17,000 per acre but only Rs1,000 was recovered.

In the area of Shah Nawaz Nusrat, a lease of one acre was rewarded to Ali Shah of the railways’ land for the purpose of agriculture against the rate of Rs15,300 but only Rs2,000 could be recovered while a lease of three acres of land for agriculture was given to Muhammad Aziz at the rate of Rs21,000 per acre and only Rs10,000 was recovered in Kashmore, Shahwali.  Elahi Bux was leased out one acre of land in Mohenjo Daro for fish farming against the rate of Rs21,000 per acre and only Rs10,000 was recovered from him.

The Express Tribune