Member National Assembly Tariq Fazal Chaudhry on Thursday expressed his concerns over “growing corruption” in the CDA and the authority’s allotment of precious land in the Margalla Hills to influential people. Chaudhry said that the SC is the “last resort” for him to save the national exchequer from being drained dry.
He said this at a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Cabinet Division. The meeting was held in Islamabad under the chairmanship of Dewan Syed Ashiq Hussain Bukhari.
Fazal alleged that the civic authority is giving state land in the Margalla Hills to influential people, including some top ranked politicians, at throwaway prices and that there is corruption in all other CDA development projects.
The MNA said that he took up the issues many times in such committee meetings, but nothing ever came of them. “Officials come, giving briefings and leave with promises, but the decisions and recommendations are never implemented,” he said, adding, “As an elected representative of this city, I have only the option to go to the Supreme Court after Eid to expose this corruption.”
The CDA rules were modified to allow for construction in Zone-IV, which was prohibited before 2010. Construction in the Margalla National Park area became possible in 2010 after the Cabinet granted its approval. The park, spread over 17,386 hectares, was established in 1980 and is home to a variety of mammals and birds.
In the meeting, CDA Chairperson Farkhand Iqbal said that the authority is “making efforts” to execute development projects transparently. He said that the CDA had taken “many steps already” to ensure transparency in the projects.
The CDA chairperson added that the authority would soon launch a state-of-the-art Rapid Transport Service — a form of which the authority has been promising for years — in Islamabad. Former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had announced over a year ago that the Rapid Transport Service will become operational in six months. But more than six months later, the authority barely managed to get its board to sign off on the project in April this year. Little progress has been made on the project since then.
But in the meeting on Thursday, Iqbal insisted that “the bus service will be a very respectable and affordable one and run in line with similar services in the UK and China.”
Iqbal said that companies from Turkey and Germany have showed interest in the project and they will make a decision within 20 days after the bidders’ ability to implement the project is established.
He said the authority is negotiating with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to carry out the feasibility study of the bus service. The ADB, he added, will charge Rs280 million for their consultation.
The CDA chairperson added that work on the Kuri Model Village will start soon after Eid. The village has been mired by land controversies since 2011, when work on the project started.
Farkhand Iqbal also seemed adamant on continuing with the controversial LED lights project, which, he believes, will save the country 1500MW of electricity. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had advised the authority in May to scrap the project, saying that newer and cheaper options were available in the market. But given CDA’s defiance, the NAB authorised an inquiry against the authority over the project on Wednesday.
The committee also constituted a sub-committee to look into the matter of allotting a plot to the cold storage in sector I-11.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2012.