Kabul Tomorrow Sunny
Kandahar Tomorrow Unknown
Herat Tomorrow Sunny
Mazar-i-sharif Tomorrow Party cloudy
Ghazni Tomorrow Sunny
Jalalabad Tomorrow Sunny
Bamiyan Tomorrow Party cloudy
Zaranj Tomorrow Sunny
Mimana Tomorrow Sunny
The Killid Group
Police housing project: Passing the buckWritten by Jamshed Malakzia
Saturday, 21 January 2012 11:26
A new township for government servants including police was planned in Nangarhar province. Five years later there are question marks about the land allottees have paid for.
In 2007, the offices of the police commandant and governor collected 30,000 Afs (roughly 600 USD at present exchange rate) from government officials for a housing project in Hesar Shahi near Ghazi Amanullah town. Receipts were given for the money paid but neither plots of land nor houses have been allotted.
In fact the government has not been able to reclaim the desert land that was identified for the housing project, which was usurped by tribesmen of the area.
Asadullah in the Police Commandant of Nangarhar confirmed that money was collected from police personnel and other government servants, and the land was not given to them.
"I was in the Police Commandant years back. An amount of 30,000 Afs was collected by the Governor's Office and Police Commandant. We also got receipts. But the government has not given the land to us," he said.
Another policeman who agreed to speak only if his name was not revealed blamed the Governor's Office and 'najeeb zarab' or big merchants, and said, "Provincial authorities and najeeb zarab are involved. They have created problems. If a new police township was created, najeeb zarab in Ghazi Amanullah would stand to lose financially."
A third officer in the Nangarhar Police Commandment who also sought anonymity, said money was collected from 18,000 police and other government officials. He said people in other provinces who had relations among government personnel in Nangarhar had also applied even though "Police Town had been allocated for only Nangarhar police."
Implement master plan
The police have accused the Governor's Office of taking bribes. But Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, spokesman of the Nangarhar governor, Gul Aqa Shirzoy, claimed he was unaware of the issue, and said if anybody was to complain the matter would be thoroughly investigated. "We have not done any indiscriminate behaviour," he claimed.
Instead, the spokesman said the Directorate of Urban Development has been ordered to follow the master plan and restore the area to what it was meant for.
Police Commander of Nangarhar, Amar Mohammad Masoom Hashemi, said they have raised the housing project issue with Governor Aqa Shirzoy many times. "The governor has promised to take action after his foreign trip," he told Killid in an interview.
Zabihullah Zmarai, member of the Nangarhar provincial council, pointed out that the council has discussed the issue with the governor many times, "but he has not done anything yet". "Police Town has been usurped. The governor and government have not taken action," he added.
The president of the Nangarhar Provincial Assembly, Muslemyar, said he had also discussed the issue with the governor. He, however, denied that money for plots was taken from people outside the province.
Engineer Hakeemudin Omarkhyl, deputy director of Nangarhar municipality, said, "The government should implement its plan without any further delay. (Having paid for it) the land belongs to the police."
Meanwhile, the governor's spokesman has sent word that the police will be given land in another area. Is this because the settlers who have occupied Police Town are unlikely to give up their claim?
Tribals from Rudat district have taken over the land, and built houses. According to the tribal leaders, they have given an area "across the road from the Kabul camp" for the police township. They warned that if plots were given to non-police personnel, they would forcibly take over the land.
Tribal leader Malak Badam, among those who have constructed a house in what should have been Police Town, said, "the police are our offspring." According to him, "we have given 2,000 plots beside the road in Kabul camp. This is our fatherland. We ourselves will give the land to the police and we will not allow it to be given to others."
Malak Abdul Wahab, another tribal leader, recalled that when they had begun to settle in the desert the government had accused them of being al Qaeda. "When we occupied the land the government told US forces we were al Qaeda. But they did not find anything after investigating."
Baseer Salangaee who was police commander of Nangarhar province in 2007, confirmed the project was launched and the money collected during his term. "Unfortunately the authorities have not started the work for the project. It is their responsibility to solve the problem of ownership of the land with the local people who have occupied it," he said.
Sardar Mohammad Sultani, the present Police Commander of Nangarhar, pins responsibility on the municipality. "The mayor should be asked why the project had been delayed. The town belongs to the police and will belong in future too as they have already paid the money."