LAHORE: On Monday, it was reported that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Lahore has expanded its investigation into financial irregularities concerning PU Town III (Jamia Town). As part of this, the bureau has issued a questionnaire to the developer, as revealed by reliable sources.
Background Information on the Project:
The project known as PU Town III (Jamia Town) was initiated in 2016 by the Punjab University Academic Staff Association (PUASA). The association claimed that the project would be completed within a five-year time-frame. Their stated objective for starting this project was to address the residential needs of the university community and provide land at concessional rates.
It should be noted that Mustafa Town, Punjab University Employees Housing Society Town I & II were also undertaken by the same association. However, these projects were independent of government funding and relied on the self-help efforts of the association’s members.
The PUASA has asserted that the required land for the project was fully acquired in compliance with their membership’s needs and that the project was duly submitted to the Lahore Development Authority (LDA). Furthermore, they obtained No Objection Certificates (NOCs) from various entities including the Irrigation Department, Private Housing Societies (PHS), LDA, Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA), and the Land Revenue (District Officer Revenue) for land mutation in Jamia Town.
According to the PUASA, due to personal disputes among the partners of the previous firm contracted for the development of Jamia Town, the project management committee terminated the old contract. Subsequently, a new contract was awarded to a different company. One of the former partners (from the dissolved partnership) has been submitting applications to various offices such as NAB, LDA, and others.
Contrarily, the Punjab University has stated that it has no involvement or responsibility in the matters concerning the housing project. According to a university spokesperson, all PU employees were officially informed through a letter dated March 8, 2021, that any requests or documents pertaining to those towns would not be considered or addressed by the Vice-Chancellor
However, in April 2023, NAB initiated an inquiry into alleged financial misconduct within the Punjab University Town III (Jamia Town) housing project and issued a summons to the developer, Mian Javed. This was done in response to numerous complaints received regarding the alleged mishandling of funds totaling RS 2,700 million, collected from both the general public and university employees.
It is also pertinent to mention here that the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) had previously uncovered instances of embezzlement and illegal activities related to the purchase and sale of land and plots within the housing society established by the faculty.
NAB’s investigation focuses on accusations of obtaining monetary advantages without proper consideration, misappropriation, and the criminal breach of trust.
Now in a recent development, NAB has issued a questionnaire to the developer of the project in which the complete record of the project has been sought.
In the questionnaire, it is said that the details of the size of the plots in the society, the details of the total number of plots and the details of the amounts to be received were provided.
Similarly, NAB officials have also called for the details of the allocation procedure of the plots and the master plan of the project.