LDA Fails to Rein in Defaulters

Lahore Development Authority’s (LDA) Town Planning (TP) Wing has introduced a lenient approach towards government fee defaulters, allowing them to continue operating their businesses despite owing substantial amounts, national daily has reported.

Inside sources at LDA revealed that there were numerous defaulters, owing billions of rupees in commercialization and other fees, but the different wings of LDA merely sent soft notices as a formality to create files and protect themselves from potential legal actions by the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) or other government agencies.

Previously, under immense pressure, Town Planning officials would seal the premises of defaulters, but these properties were often de-sealed after obtaining an undertaking from the owners, promising to settle their pending fees. In some instances, TP officials even requested FIR registration, disconnection of utilities, and bans on the sale or purchase of defaulting properties, but these measures were rarely followed up.

One prominent example of this lax enforcement was the case of the UFC Gym located on Defence Road. ACE had taken up the matter of the gym’s outstanding dues and sent a notice to the LDA’s Director TP (Zone-V), who sealed the gym on the day of his appearance before ACE.

Just three days before the appearance at ACE, notices were sent to ADCR, urging them to impose a ban on the sale, purchase, or transfer of the land in question. The notice highlighted that the landowner, who operated the UFC Gym on the site, had failed to deposit the land use conversion fee despite repeated reminders and notices. As a result, they were classified as defaulters, making them liable for a surcharge of 17.5 per cent according to the rates of the current fiscal year 2023-24.

According to sources in LDA, the Chief Town Planner informed the LDA DG that there were two major defaulters in the TP wing, one of them being the UFC Gym with an outstanding amount of around Rs900 million. However, the recent challan issued by LDA for the gym amounted to approximately Rs150 million only. When questioned about this discrepancy, LDA Chief Town Planner Shakeel Anjum Minhas denied any such lenient policy and claimed that LDA had successfully recovered around Rs6 billion in various fees during the previous fiscal year.

Regarding the UFC Gym case, Minhas asserted that he had already instructed the Director TP to send notices to all relevant government departments and explore all legal avenues to recover the pending amount.

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