Out of 53 housing colonies here, 44 such colonies have been set up fulfilling the legal requirement mentioned in the Housing Societies Act, it is learnt.

Most of them neither applied for getting legal status nor submitted any plan under which they are bound to prove their ownership, transfer letter of the land and other documents, reveals a survey conducted by The Nation here on Wednesday.

Out of 9 colonies, 7 housing colonies were set up under the rules and regulations framed by the Tehsil Municipal Administration while the remaining two colonies are in the last stage of the approval. The poor who already lived below the poverty line, collected some money after sacrificing their wishes have lost millions of rupees in purchase of plots in one of the illegal housing schemes. Different schemes were launched during the last government regime and after the launch their owners pledged to complete the schemes in specific period but they ran away after collecting full payments from the buyers.

Most of such schemes lack basic facilities such as electricity, roads, gas, school, parks and mosque. However, the owners of illegal housing colonies have mentioned in their advertisements that all the facilities will be provided in their colonies. They attract the poor after advertising at a local cable net work frequently but the district administration and other institutions concerned remained silent after taking “gratification”.

Some influential housing scheme owners carried out incomplete development work in the colonies including drainage and roads. The district and tehsil administrations have banned the transfer of the property rights of the plots in these colonies but majority of plots have been transferred illegally. Some people have started construction on the plots fixed for school and park. In this connection, the Tehsil Municipal Administration has claimed to unearth majority of fake and illegal housing schemes which are fleecing the general public.

“Cases Under Section 420 and 468 PPC have also been registered against the owners of the schemes. The Punjab government has already ordered for strict action against the owners of illegal housing schemes while the local district administration and agencies are equally responsible for promoting this unlawful activity where the land mafia loots the innocent citizens,” said Ch Ameer Afzal Advocate, the chairman of Human Rights Forum while talking to this scribe.

He further said the bogus housing schemes are looting billions of rupees from the innocent people while the authorities concerned remain unconcerned from the issue. It is the duty of the TMA and the district administration to monitor private housing schemes but both the institutions provide room for fraudsters and the fake housing scheme owners to go into disappearance with booty, he maintained. He said in this connection, the Supreme Court in December 2010 directed the Punjab Housing Secretary to crack down on such societies but to no avail.

A TMA staffer requesting anonymity said, “We are helpless in taking a stern action against the influential land mafia. Proper legislation is also necessary to check this fraud and to stop this menace across the province, beside in TMA Sheikhupura.” On the other hand, the people who lost their precious money in the fake schemes demanded that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif should curb the mafia and take a stern action against them.