By Maryam Iraj
Eden Housing initially known as Developers Group and later as Eden Developers, was founded in 1981 with the meager seed money of Rs. 250,000. They are one of the earliest real estate developers of the country with the largest land scam ever. With heavy advertisements and fake propaganda,the company today expands beyond Lahore.
Interesting to note here that in a matter of few years, it’s a conglomerate now with assets worth exceeding Rs. 6 billion. They started small with Race View Villas, its first town-housing project in Lahore which comprised of 14 houses only located on Jail Road, adjacent to Jilani Park, then known as The Race Course Park. The second project of Eden Housing was Gulberg Homes featuring 14 homes on Syed Maratab Ali Road Gulberg, Lahore which was delivered in 1984.
In 1986, Eden Housing launched it’s third project Eden Homes on Main Jail Road Lahore but this time the developer opted to feature more houses, 16 to be precise. By 1989, Eden had 5 more projects to its credit including Liberty Homes and Green View Homes with incomplete infrastructure.
Eden decided to unveil its “true potential of scams and frauds” in 90s as the master developer of elite communities in Pakistan and advertised its first grand project, Eden Villas, comprising of 100 houses enjoying a central location in Q-Block, Model Town Extension, Lahore. Eden developers launched Eden Park, its first farm-housing project in 1992 which featured a limited number of farmhouses spread on 1,000 kanal of land near Lahore Park, Raiwind Road, Lahore.
The dupes of Eden scams went unabated in 90s, and In 1992 Eden introduced its first-ever commercial project Eden Centre, a 6-storey multi-purpose complex located on Jail Road. During the same year, the developer launched Eden Cottages-I, a housing society adjacent to B-Block, DHA Phase-I. Eden Cottages-II, adjacent to Eden Cottages-I, was launched in the same year. Eden Heights in 1997. In 1999 Eden Avenue, Eden Avenue Extension featured 240 in 2002. During the same year 2002, Eden Housing launched Eden Defence Villas at a location much closer to DHA Phase-I Lahore.
In September 2003, the developer inaugurated Eden Tower complex on Main Boulevard Gulberg Lahore. Two years later, in August 2005, Eden Canal Villas along Canal Bank Road, Thokar Niaz Baig, Lahore, were available for sale.
The recent projects of Eden Housing are inclusive of Eden Palace Villas, Eden Gardens, Eden Lane Villas 1 & 2 and Eden Abad. The developer has finally chosen to step out of Lahore and focused on propagating Eden Life, their first project outside Lahore in Sargodha and is located 9 minutes drive away from Khayam Chowk, Sargodha.
After having given this brief introduction, I will come to the point which is critical to highlight here. Though there were many complains by the victims of Eden developers, the scam was first exposed by Mubasher Lucman in Khara Sach in 2014. According to sources, Eden authorities came and offered a bribe of over Rs. 80 million to the anchorperson personally, but the culprits were kicked out of his office then. They were brought in by a big mega name in the field of journalism and the two parties; media mediator and frauds of Eden society, were also backed by a very prominent politician of 2014.
To everyone’s surprise, the team of Khara Sach did four shows back to back against the Eden Developers scam. This company even sponsored Khara Sach and, for the first time in the history of broadcast media, an anchorperson had the courage to come live on TV to declare his mistrust in his sponsors.
Lucman told his viewers categorically, “not to get attracted by this sponsor as its a fraud and we are not responsible for their seductive schemes”. Eden Housing scheme is so far the largest real estate scam in the history of Pakistan in which hundreds of thousands of people were afflicted, claimed Lucman.
The daughter of former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has been married to the chief executive of the notorious Eden builders’ group, Murtaza Amjad, son of Dr. Amjad. This relationship led to unjust influence of Iftikhar Chaudhary on the cases against the Eden Developers, and Chaudhary exercised his authority to the hilt to manipulate the investigations against his daughter’s in-laws. In NAB alone, there are almost 2000 complains registered.
Mubasher Lucman’s claims proved to be true after years.
Proprietors of Eden housing projects accused of multi-billion fraud have recently absconded the country what NAB declares as the “inefficiency of Interior Ministry as the bureau had written two months back to the ministry to put names of Dr. Amjad and his sons Murtaza Amjad and Mustafa Amjad on Exit Control List (ECL).”
Eden housing did not complete and handed over many projects like Eden Gardens, Eden Dream Homes, Eden Meadows, Eden Abad, and Eden Lands.They have taken the money from people but the projects were never delivered to the people after so many years. Dr. Amjad, Anjum Amjad, Murtaza Amjad and Mustafa Amjad, owners of Eden housing projects, are subject to criminal proceedings after National Accountability Bureau (NAB) explored their criminal records over the charges of leaving thousands of people bankrupt. It was the hard-earned money worth billions of rupees of Pakistani people. According to the NAB top officials, “Eden housing project have confirmed that owners of Eden Housing projects excluding Anjum Amjad have fled the country to avoid investigations of National Accountability Bureau against them”.
According to the sources, the culprit family holds dual nationality of Canada and chances are very high they they have traveled to Canada.
According to the official documents available with a national daily, a letter, No 3-1(1)(1)/L/NAB.Dy.Dir (ECL) dated February 16, 2018 was sent to Interior Ministry seeking name of Chief Executive Officer of Eden Housing Projects Dr. Muhammad Amjad, s/o Ghulam Hussain to be put on ECL.
Another letter available with the national daily, No 1(9)HQ/1835-NAB-L dated March 20, 2018, was sent from NAB to interior ministry showing that another request was put up before the interior ministry by the NAB to seek annulment of the passport of Dr. Muhammad Amjad and be put on the black list.
Following this, another letter was sent from NAB on April 11, 2018 to DG Passport and Immigration Ministry of Interior stating that “During inquiry proceedings, there is a very strong apprehension that accused Anjum Amjad, wife of Dr. Amjad and his son Murtaza Amjad may abscond in order to delay the due process of law”.
Nevertheless, multiple requests from the NAB remained unattended and the required actions were not taken by the ministry. This criminal negligence on the part of government gave the culprit-family a window to flee. However, the NAB’s spokesperson commented that if the ministry cooperated, we could still get hold of the absconder.
Dr. Amjad the owner of the Eden Housing Scam delivered plots to public without proper sanitation disposal and electricity provision. In a latest development, the NAB chairman took notice of the issue and directed NAB DG Lahore, Shahzad Saleem, to pay heed to the problems of Eden residents who are left without the basic facilities such as the provision of electricity and sanitation. In pursuance of the directives, NAB Lahore DG, Shahzad Saleem, called meeting of all stakeholders, including Lesco officials, suppliers, contractors, and consultants of the Eden scam in the open-hearing session where hundreds of people came up with their complains . NAB also called the society president, Ziaullah, to prepare the fast-track plan to the facilitate the 700 houses.
Pertinent to note here that NAB has directed Eden Housing scheme management to compensate its victims by March 31. On 31 March 2018, NAB has summoned Eden Housing Scheme management and its complainants to make them face and respond to the allegations, but Eden family never turned up.
An official of Interior Ministry informed, “the names of the culprit Eden family have not been placed yet on ECL. He said the placement of the names on ECL is a lengthy process and names could not be placed on the ECL without approval of cabinet committee.” The Eden group was also reported to be involved in the Employees Old Age Benefit Institution (EOBI) scandal as well, holding a massive outstanding bill of Rs. 900 million. The case was heard by the then Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Chaudhary, who was also the father-in-law of Dr, Amjad’s son. It was the mockery of justice by the former CJP, Iftikhar Chaudhary, who maneuvered the hearings to facilitate the Eden culprits.
Eden’s false claims to have architectural and urban planning capabilities earned them more than 34 projects related to real estate and housing development, which reflects the company’s unmatched fake propaganda. In one of the interview to a magazine, Dr. Amjad claimed ironically, “Eden is the only real estate developer which has specific engineering cell for “Water and Sanitation” and “Optimal Energy Utilization”. And this is precisely the problem which DG NAB Lahore attended to.
In addition to hunting the local victims, Eden also sucks the blood of its overseas clients. Pakistanis who are living in Middle East,UK, USA and other parts of the world also fell victim to such a huge scam, and are still looking for justice.