Logar mayor sells green belts, footpaths
PUL-I-ALAM (Pajhwok): The Logar mayor has unlawfully sold government-owned land, including green belts and pedestrian ways, in Pul-i-Alam, the provincial capital, authorities said on Saturday.
Documents obtained by Pajhwok Afghan News link Mayor Ahmad Khan Ulfat to the sale of the footpaths, measuring about 500 metres, in violation of the city master plan.
Deputy Governor Mohammad Hashim Faizi confirmed the mayor had literally converted the green belts and sidewalks into commercial areas. He put the land’s value at 35 million afghanis.
“When I came to know of this illegality, construction of high-rise buildings in the areas was stopped and the Ministry of Urban Development informed. But the mayor, who has received money from people, is still trying to forge documents,” Faizi said.
An investigation report (3705/1516) submitted to the ministry on October 8, 2013 shows two areas were sold illicitly. Together, the two pieces of land are 43 metres long, 34 metres wide and three metres deep.
The report has been signed by investigators, including Eng. Ahmad Khalid Yousafzai (city planning chief), Eng. Mohammad Yasin (survey chief) and Eng. Ahmad Shah Himmat (urban development head).
Another document also reveals one excavated area -- the municipality’s green zone -- has been disposed of illegally.
A letter sent from the governor’s office to the urban development department says: “The municipality approved the green zone without completing the legal process and in violation of a cabinet decision.”
“The issue should be investigated afresh,” says a letter signed by Urban Development Minister Dr. Hasan Abdu Hai. The document has been addressed to the governor’s house.
In reply, the provincial authorities said: “Fresh investigations show the areas are green belts and footpaths.” The letter is signed by Eng. Mohammad Jamal Faizi, Eng. Mohammad Raqib Kakar and Eng. Syed Attiqullah Sadat.
The owner of a market, Norajan Gadakhel, also accused the mayor of illegally selling his and government land.
“I have a copy of the plan that clearly allocates the land for green zones footpaths,” he claimed. “I have complained to the Urban Development Ministry and the governor’s office.”
Eng. Ahmad Shah Himmat, an Urban Development Ministry official, said: “A few days back we sent a team to Logar for investigating the issue. They found excavation was ongoing in the green zone.
“Whatever the municipality is doing without consulting with the ministry and in violation of the master plan is unacceptable to us,” he added.
Another letter sent by the deputy governor to the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) shows the area has been allotted for a green zoon. Its sale was against the Urban Development Ministry plan, he wrote.
The letter, noting that the documents were processed in a clandestine manner, urged the IDLG to help the provincial government tackle the issue.
Tawab Ghorzang, the IDLG spokesman, said Logar officials had asked them for support. A week ago, the IDLG and the Urban Development Ministry launched a joint investigation.
For his part, the mayor has been reluctant to discuss the issue. In response to repeated calls from this scribe, he promised to visit Pajhwok’s office to share his view. But he failed to keep his promise.
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