Probe recommends action against LDA planning boss

LAHORE, April 8: An inquiry officer has recommended a disciplinary action against the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) chief town planner (CTP) for misleading the competent authorities causing the suspension of five LDA officers for almost six months through his false reports, Dawn has learnt.

Hafiz Ehsaanul Haq, who recently retired as LDA additional director general, also recommended a reference to the Services and General Administration Department against then administration director Shahid Farid who notified the suspension of Town Planning directors Ume Laila Naqvi and Khalid Hassan Lodhi, who were working in the LDA on a deputation from the Local Government and Community Development Department and the Punjab Housing Urban Development and Public Health Engineering Department. Mr Farid failed to inform the competent authority (LDA director general) about the status of these officers.
The fact finding inquiry was entrusted to Mr Haq in June, 2011, after the top LDA officials suspended Town Planning wing directors Ms Naqvi and Mr Lodhi, deputy directors Qaswar Abbas and Sidra Tabassum and assistant director Abdul Rehman for their negligence in illegal constructions of shops on Khayaban-e-Jinnah (Johar Town) on June 18. The LDA also got registered a criminal case against Mr Abbas with Satukatla police station.

The inquiry report quotes CTP Chaudhry Muhammad Akram as saying that Ms Naqvi gave three days to the owner of plot No 56 to build illegal shops Khayaban-e-Jinnah. Ms Tabassum raised unnecessary queries on the issue, providing ample time to the owner to go ahead with the construction while assistant director Rehman failed to take to any action the illegal construction.

The CTP alleged that Mr Lodhi remained the Town Planning director of Khayaban-e-Jinnah from June 17, 2010 to April 5, 2011, and during his tenure illegal constructions took place. Mr Abbas remained also posted deputy director of the area from June 17, 2010, to December 21, 2010, but he did not take any action against unauthorized constructions.

The inquiry officer found the allegations unjustified and illegal. The report says that the officers dealt with the case as per routine as the illegally built shops were demolished in 20 days.

The report says the accused officers were punished on account of a so-called inaction on their part.

“But this premise for action against them is patently false as the accused officers, after observing routine formalities, demolished the illegal construction with the entire possible promptitude,” reads the report.

The report says that the action of demolition of illegal construction by the accused officers was concealed by the CTP.

“The demolition was accordingly done on June 15, 2011, and there is enough circumstantial evidence that the CTP was well aware about it but he deliberately omitted this fact in his report on June 22, 2011, which he forwarded to the LDA DG after seven days from the actual date of operation/demolition,” says the report.

If the CTP had informed the DG about the demolition operation of the illegal shops on June 15, 2011, the unnecessary suspension of the innocent officials would have been averted on June 18, 2011.

The report also declares CTP’s allegations against Mr Lodhi and Mr Abbas false and baseless, stating that the charges against them were vague and imprecise. The inquiry officer says Mr Akram did not produce record to him and also failed to nominate any departmental representative to assist the inquiry proceedings.

The report recommended the LDA higher authorities to withdraw the inquiry.

The report says that those enjoying senior positions are supposed to exercise their powers in a transparent manner applying judicious mind.

Dawn learnt that LDA DG Ahad Khan Cheema has approved the recommendations.

CTP Akram and Director (administration) Khalid Pervaiz did not respond calls.