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Millions of afghanis embezzled in Balkh township project

Millions of afghanis embezzled in Balkh township project

Nov 29, 2017 - 19:44

PARAKH (Pajhwok): Nine years ago, millions of afghanis were collected from thousands of residents of central Panjsher province under a residential scheme in northern Balkh province, but none could obtain their property so far.

Some sources say the money had been embezzled by former Panjsher mayor, Abdul Khabir Bakhshi, while others rejected the claim as baseless. Some people say the money collected from people was 50 million afghanis while others put the amount to 140 million afs.

According to Panjsher officials, the province’s population is 450,000 individuals. Some residents said they lacked proper residence area due to congested mountains.

However, the Central Statistics Organization (CSO) says the population of Panjsher was 1.56 million people in 2016.

Panjsher officials say Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor allocated a piece of land for building a township for Panjsher residents in Hairatan district in 2008.

However, many people who have deposited money to obtain plots in the township told Pajhwok Afghan News widespread corruption has been committed in distribution of land plots.

Khan Jan, a teacher at Askniaz Primary School in Karaman village of Hesa-i-Doem district of Panjsher, told Pajhwok that when the scheme was announced in Balkh in 2008, he happily handed over 30,000 afghanis to the Panjsher municipality in two installments.

He said had been in search for a proper location to build a home for his family, but the municipality after receiving the money gave him a fake document that contained specification of his land plot.

Mohammad Shuaib, a resident of Anaba district of Panjsher and an educationinfo-icon supervisor, said hundreds of teachers had given 6,000 to 15,000 afghanis each to the Panjsher municipality to get land plots in Balkh province.However, he said none of the teachers could receive land.

Hayatullah, principle of Bahramand High School in Malakan village of Anaba district, said, “I swear, I borrowed 5,000 afghanis from three persons and gave that money to the Panjsher municipality in order to get a land plot, but the land was not given to us.”

A person with disabilities, Abdul Wahid from Karaman village of Hesa-i-Doem district, also said he paid 20,000 afghanis to the Panjsher municipality for a land plot.

“They told us we are highly entitled and must receive land, I hurried and found money and gave it to the municipality, the municipality gave me a document but it was fake,” he said. “I regret giving money to the government which never thinks about our issues,” he said.

Habibullah, a resident of Paposht village of Rakha district of Panjsher, also said he paid 20,000 afghanis to obtain a land plot in Balkh, but the land authority department in Balkh told him that his money had not been submitted to them.

These people said they would stage protests if their money was not given back to them or the land was not distributed.

A number of provincial officials confirmed people’s money had been embezzled.

Mohammad Amin Sediqui, deputy governor of Panjsher, said it was decided to fix price of a plot from 15,000 to 30,000 afghanis based the plot’s location in the Shahrak-i-Heratan township.

He added Abdul Khaber Bakhshi, then Panjsher mayorm was responsible for selection of the deserving individuals and collection of money.

Sediqui said Bakhshi should have collected the money and transferred it to the Land Authority department in Balkh so that the process of plots distribution to people could have started, but he embezzled tens of millions of afghanis and was currently on the run.

Abdul Karim Abasi, former head of the Provincial Council (PC), said he along with two PC members investigated the issue and traveled to Balkh province as well.

He added their investigation showed 140 million afghanis had been embezzled but the amount collected from people and entered into the system was 98 million afghanis. He accused former mayor of Panjsher Abdul Khaber Bakhshi of the embezzlement.

Abass, however, believed the fund embezzled could be more than 98 million afghanis because 14,000 people had been asked to provide 5,000 to 30,000 afghanis each. Some individuals had been asked to submit up to 800,000 afghanis for construction of plot in the township.

He added the buyers had been provided fake documents and the money was never deposited to the Land Authority in Balkh.

Delawar Khan, deputy mayor of Panjsher, said 68 million afghanis had been collected from the Panjsheris for distribution of plots in Balkh but no plot was distributed to them.

He added documents related to the collection of funds were with Bakhshi, who was involved in the entire process.

Sher Shah Rasouli, head of the Land Authority Department in Balkh, said: “No one has been allotted provided plot because no money is deposited with the Land Authority. Whenever the money is deposited, the process of plot distribution to people will be started.”

The issue is being investigated:

Abdul Basir Khalid, head of Panjsher Appellant Attorney Office, said Bakhshi had been accused of embezzling 50 million afghanis and the case was referred to the Attorney General Office (AGO) in 2016.

AGO Deputy Spokesman Mohammad Alem Attique, without going into details, said the case of Bakhshi had been with the AGO and was then handed over to a special committee for investigation.

He said some individuals could not be arrested, thus the case was under investigation.

Bakhshi in a telephonic conversation with Pajhwok Afghan News rejected the allegation of embezzlement and termed it a conspiracy against him.

He claimed 6,082 plots --- one plot accounted for 6,670 afghanis--- had been distributed to people of Panjsher after a proper observation by a committee comprised of former governor of Panjsher Bahlol Bahij, former Deputy Governor Abdul Rahman Kabir and Mohammad Tahir Hemmat.

He claimed the documents of plots had also been distributed to the people and 59 million afghanis collected from people had been deposited in the bank account of the Land Authority.

If the price of one plot is 6,670, the total money for 6,082 plots reaches 405 million afghanis.

Bakhshi said he was not on the run and was living in Kabulinfo-icon and frequently traveled to Panjsher. He said he has all documents of land distribution.

Mohammad Tahir Hemmat, former sector head of Pansjher and current sector head of Parwan province, said he was a member of the commission tasked with distribution of plots to people in Panjsher but Bakhshi was responsible for the collection of money.

He said the amount collected by the former mayor was not transferred to the Land Authority of Balkh, thus plots could not be distributed.




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