Despite a lapse of four years, inquiry committees of Lahore Development Authority to estimate financial loss as a result of the demolition operation have failed to complete and submit their inquiry reports or findings, it is learnt. The main objective for the formation of these committees was to prepare suggestions and recommendations to redress complaints of stakeholders.
However, the said committees were ordered by government to submit their inquiry reports after completing the process on the basis of documentary and other legal proofs of ownership.
It is also learnt that most owners of the shops and offices in the demolished plazas had to pay installments to developers while a few had paid the amount in advance to the owners. However, after demolition of illegally constructed plazas including Al Rehman Medical Centre Gulberg Ferozpur Road, Inam Intext Garden Town, Ravi Centre, Jess Heights, Big City Main Boulevard Gulberg, Ahad Tower Kalma Chowk, Bridal Plaza, Tariq Plaza Model Town Link Road, a plaza adjacent to Telenor Telecom Company and three plazas situated in PIA Housing Society, the stakeholders contacted owners and developers of such plazas for compensation or to return their paid amount but in vain.
Talking to TheNation, Muhammad Amin, a stakeholder said when he contacted the owners of a demolished plaza, situated at Ferozpur Road, they replied that they had spent millions of rupees on the construction with good intention while the government demolished the plazas for which they are not responsible as they also had to bear loss worth billions of rupees. They refused to pay back the amount, he added.
The inquiry committees not only failed to complete and produce reports of 12 demolished plazas so far even after lapse of four years but the committees also have not bothered to start the proceedings in this regard.
Earlier, the LDA marked 31 plazas for demolition during a crackdown on illegal constructions in the year 2009-10 but they could not prepare assessment report vis-à-vis financial losses despite directions of the provincial government.
The two different committees were constituted by the government; one headed by Justice (r) Amir Raza Khan and the other by the Lahore Division Commissioner Khusro Pervaiz then. Both the committees were constituted to review whether the action taken by government against illegal plazas was justified or not so that the stakeholders could be compensated in case demolition operation was not justified.
The action against illegally constructed plazas in the City was initiated by the provincial government and LDA on the orders of Supreme Court, which was later halted for indefinite period because different segments of the society including the leaders of different political parties criticised it.
However, fate of hundreds of illegally constructed commercial plazas and shops situated at non-commercial areas of LDA-controlled areas and housing colonies is hanging as the authorities left the issue on discretion of the provincial government.