Under the guise of security concerns, the district administration has started demolishing the infrastructure of a model bazaar constructed at a cost of more than Rs31 million only three years ago on an over 20-kanal piece of land with 120 stalls, a joy land, food street, grassy grounds, a mosque and an office building.

The model bazaar was constructed in February 2012. “Apparently the closure of the model bazaar is due to security risk, but the main factor is corruption and negligence of former DCO Ifitikhar Ahmed Saho, a source alleged.

“The current district administration particularly District Officer Industries Shafiq Khosa wants to demolish it so that all the signs of corruption could be removed,” said Industrial Exhibition contractor Mr Muhammad Hanif while talking to The Nation. He demanded a high-level inquiry into the issue. He further added that the district administration had forcibly stopped and cancelled Industrial Exhibition while legal contract was for two months from Feb 13, 2015 to April 13, 2015.

An official of the model bazaar on condition of anonymity said that there was huge corruption in the model bazaar project. Heavy bribe had been received by former DCO Iftikhar Ahmed and Shafiq Khosa for Industrial Exhibition 2013, 2014 and current year 2015.

No tender notice had been published in any newspaper for Industrial Exhibition and appointment of model bazaar officials while the other DCOs of Punjab had published tender notice under the rules Amended) 2009. He also said that an inquiry is still underway by the Anti-Corruption Department against Shafiq Khosa by a citizen namely Farooq Shahzad.

He said that failure of the model bazaar was due to negligence, corruption, and high prices of even unhygienic commodities. There was no price regulatory body and mechanism of district administration to control prices of essential eatable commodities that were completely manipulated by traders, hoarders and profiteers.

He further added that poor planning and lack of a comprehensive mobilisation plan for stall holders was main reason for failure of the bazaar as most of the stalls had been lying vacant for the last three years and only a few traders shifted their business here.

On the other side, Mr Khosa denied all the allegations and said the model bazaar had been closed only over security issues. He further said that it would be shifted to the empty land of Old GTS stand near Traffic Chowk. Its construction would be on over 48 kanals of land at a cost of Rs47.1 million. The necessary documentation has been completed while the summary for release of funds is pending with the Finance Department, he said.

Focal Person of Government of Punjab for Model Bazaar Nasir Rafiq on telephone from Lahore said that there are 17 model bazaars working in the province while 6 more are underway and the model bazaar DG Khan is not being closed but being relocated on the proposal of MNA and MPA concerned.