KABUL): Vice-President Mohammad Karim Khalili on Thursday rejected a report about his role in the alleged seizure of state-owned land by the Onyx Construction Company as “untrue and misleading”.
Pajhwok Afghan News reported on April 17 that at least 140 acres of government-owned land in the Rahman Mina neighbourhood of Kabul, where a township is being built, was grabbed by the private construction firm.
The company sought formal permission from the Presidential Palace before building the township. Subsequently, Vice-President Karim Khalili directed the Ministry of Urban Development: “Consider the request in accordance with rules and after consulting relevant organs and documents.”
Based on documentary evidence provided to Pajhwok by the Kabul Municipality, the area that has been converted into residential plots by Onyx was surveyed in 1979 and classified as state property meant for a green belt.
A house over a 100 metres square piece of land in the area is priced between $100,000 (4.59 million afghanis) and $150,000. The overall cost of the land thus comes to more than $560 million.
All official procedures were flouted by Onyx in developing the township, according to documents made available to this news agency. “Under the master plan, land and plots in the area cannot be allotted, sold or purchased,” the municipality said in a letter to the General Administration Directorate of the Judiciary.
In a rebuttal sent to this news agency, Khalili’s office said the vice president’s orders were “very clear and explicit.” He ordered the authorities concerned to consider the request in accordance with rules and after consulting relevant organs and documents, the statement said.
“Unfortunately, despite such clear wording, an impression was created that the second vice president, contrary to the cabinet’s decision, sanctioned construction of the township by Onyx,” it added. According to the clarification, it is the vice president’s duty to receive requests and complaints from individuals and companies. And Onyx is no exception.
However, Pajhwok reported what it received from the municipality and urban development ministry. The City Planning and Implementation Department at Kabul Municipality accused the ministry of straying into its domain.
The municipality said it was authorised to decide on townships in Kabul. But the ministry allowed such schemes without referring them to the municipality, it complained.
Deputy Minister of Urban Development Amiruddin Salik insisted that they had asked the municipality for information regarding the government-owned land when Onyx approached the ministry for the township scheme.