LAHORE – The land mafia is fleecing the innocent citizens in the name of selling ‘plots on instalments’ and the number of its victims is increasing with each passing day because of the lethargic attitude of the departments concerned that fail to check such ‘scams’.

Besides dozens of private housing colonies that have been approved by the concerned authorities, the land mafia has launched more than 200 illegal private housing colonies in the City.

Most of these illegal housing colonies are functioning under the nose of government departments and agencies, such as the Punjab Cooperative Housing Society (PCHS), Lahore Development Authority (LDA), and Town Municipal Authority (TMA) of City District Government Lahore (CDGL).

These departments and agencies seem helpless in initiating any legal action against the land mafia in the absence of any solid legislation by the government for checking this fraudulent activity within the boundaries of the provincial metropolis and its surroundings in general and other cities of the province in particular, a PCHS official said on condition of anonymity. “To stop the land mafia from fleecing the innocent citizens, the government must formulate comprehensive policies and enact concrete laws,” he suggested.

A CDGL official said on condition of anonymity that though laws existed for checking deceptive business, they did not empower the concerned authorities of the LDA to award exemplary punishments to the land mafia. He alleged that, taking advantage of the poor laws for checking such criminal acts, some government officials are also supporting the land mafia.

An LDA official, who also requested anonymity, said that government departments and agencies usually ignore the land mafia or developers of bogus private housing schemes until they disappear from the scene after looting millions of rupees of the innocent citizens.

“The concerned government departments and agencies publish lists of bogus housing schemes in newspapers, declaring them as illegal and advising the masses to avoid purchase of plots there. But there is no use to cry over spilt milk,” he remarked.

A question arises here that why these government departments and agencies did not initiate action against fraudulent and bogus housing colonies when they were launched by the land mafia.

“Government departments and agencies are responsible for promoting this unlawful activity whereby the land mafia fleeces the innocent citizens by allotting them a plot on instalments or on lump-sum amount in such a fake colony that does not exist on the map,” said Muhammad Ishfaq, a victim of plot scam of a private housing colony.

“Though some developers and owners of illegal private housing colonies are deceiving the masses by allotting plots to them in bogus housing colonies, developers of housing schemes that have been legally approved by government authorities are also deceiving people by allotting or selling one file of plot to more than one people,: he alleged.

Ishfaq gave the example of the LDA Employees Housing Colony, saying that dozens of victims and affectees are still seeking justice and compensation. “They lodged a complaint with the concerned authorities about this fraud by developers, but all in vain,” he added.

Muhammad Hanif, another victim of a private housing scheme situated at Raiwind Road, said that he was paying instalments for a plot for about one decade, but the owners of the colony were reluctant to give demarcation of the plot.

Talking to TheNation, Tayyab, office manager of a private housing colony (enlisted as an illegal housing colonies by the LDA) situated at GT Road near Manawan, said that not all the private housing schemes, whether approved by government departments or not, were plundering the citizens.