Housing schemes owe LESCO millions
By Khawaja Naseer
LAHORE: The Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) has consulted the city government and the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) for clearing the electrification dues of the societies developed by them.
New LESCO chief Akram Arain said that besides the pending electrification fees for societies developed by the LDA and the city government, there were fifteen other privately developed residential societies which owed the company electrification dues.
The LESCO chief said he had no option but to stop providing further connections in these localities to save an already overloaded transmission system.
Fifteen housing schemes and towns in Lahore, including some in posh areas, owe LESCO around Rs 104 million in electricity connection charges, even though residents of these housing schemes and towns have paid development charges to the developers.
As a result, other people in these housing schemes have been refused electricity individually for no fault of theirs.
Now LESCO has stopped giving new connections to residents in private housing schemes and towns like Johar Town, Mustafa Town and Sabzazar Scheme, which were developed by the LDA, and Mohafiz Town, developed by the Punjab Police, because the developers of these schemes have not paid due connection charges.
According to the copies of records provided to Daily Times, the major schemes and towns, and the money they owe, are: Khuda Bux Colony near the New Airport (Rs 2 million), Mateen Avenue near WAPDA Town (Rs 3.6m), Doctors’ Housing Society at Niaz Beg Phase I (Rs 4.1m), Phase II (Rs 1.6m), Overseas Pakistanis Foundation Society Phase I (Rs 5.3m), Phase II (Rs 10m), NFC Housing Scheme (Rs 2m), King College Housing Scheme (Rs 7.3m), Taj Bagh Scheme (Rs 10.33m), Mustafa Town (Rs 10.12m), Nawab Town on Raiwind Road (Rs 3,28,906), Kotli Pir Abdul Rehman at Shalamar (Rs 5,5,142), Gosha-e-Ahbab Phase III (Rs 7.6m), Johar Town (Rs 20m), Mohafiz Town on Multan Road (Rs 5m), Sabzazar Scheme on Multan Road (Rs 15m), Naz Town near Valencia Town, and Amir Town near Taj Bagh Scheme.
According to records at LESCO, the developers of Taj Bagh Scheme, Mateen Avenue and Amir Town have decamped with millions of rupees, while in schemes like Khuda Bux Colony, Nawab Town and Gosha-e-Ahbab Phase III, LESCO had refused power connections until fees for new connections are paid, the sources added.
Sources said the Taj Bagh Scheme however was different because the Punjab Irrigation Department was responsible for issuing a licence for the development of this scheme. In 1996, Taj Bagh Scheme developer Pervaiz Amin got the contract from the Punjab government with the help of a licence from the Irrigation Department necessary for new electricity connections, making a part payment and promising that the remaining sum would be paid later. But that was not done. Later, the residents of this scheme were issued notices for non-payment of their dues. They said that they had paid development charges, including fees for new power connections, to the developer. Now Mr Amin owes Rs 10.34 million to LESCO. The LESCO chief confirmed that Mr Amin owed LESCO millions of rupees and fled.
An official, who asked not to be named, said senior LDA officials had contacted LESCO last week to resolve the power connection issue for Johar Town. The LDA officials offered to give Rs 5 million as the new connections fee for some blocks of this town, but the LESCO authorities insisted on taking the full amount which was around Rs 20 million, the sources said.
The LESCO chief said there were around 20 towns and schemes including those developed by government departments, which owed LESCO around Rs 100 million.
Mr Arain said the WAPDA chairman had visited Johar Town to look into the matter. He said some senior LDA officials had contacted him after the chairman’s visit and offered Rs 5 million to electrify the few blocks. The matter was being discussed, he added.
About Mohafiz Town, Mr Arain said the authorities concerned had tried to fool LESCO because first they promised that the town administration would pay for the electrification and then said that they did not need power connections. “Actually they got power connections from Rajput Town, which resulted in power shutdowns due to extra load on the area electricity feeder,” Mr Arain said.
Mr Arain said demonstrations by residents of housing schemes and towns without electricity against LESCO were actually “tactics” by the developers of the housing schemes.
“Why should LESCO compensate people defrauded by the developers when the fees for new power connections have not been paid?” the LESCO chief asked. He said no power distribution company could afford to electrify an area that did not pay the money.
Mr Arain admitted that LESCO officials might have been involved in illegally giving connections in some schemes.
He confirmed that line superintendents accused of giving electricity connections to towns and housing schemes illegally had been suspended.
The LESCO chief said he had also warned executive engineers and divisional officers who tried to give electricity connections illegally.
The district government is holding fortnightly meetings with LESCO to settle the issue, Mian Amer Mahmood, the Lahore district nazim, told Daily Times.
The nazim said various options including the payment of 50 percent of dues were under consideration and all the issues would be settled before the next summer.
About Mohafiz Town constructed by the National Police Foundation (NPF), a senior police official said the NPF was responsible for the delay in electrification and it would be further delayed due to litigation between NPF and LESCO over the electrification dues.
He said the LDA was actually responsible for the delay in payment of electricity dues to LESCO because the LDA took 10 to 15 percent plots in every society before its development under the Cooperatives Act. He said the LDA could sell these plots to clear the dues of the housing societies, but the land mafia was so powerful that nobody could resist them.
Several owners of these privately developed societies have either left the country or are in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau on corruption charges and in the absence of the owners, the residents themselves formed associations and demanded LESCO revise their electricity dues.
Lahore Development Authority Director General Akhlaq Ahmad Tarrar was unavailable for comment.