CDA’s shady auction deals: ‘Whistleblower’ sent packing

ISLAMABAD, Sept 7: A senior CDA officer suspected of blowing the whistle on shady auction of 12 commercial plots by the hierarchy has been sent packing, Dawn has learnt.

Sources in the CDA said Aslam Chaudhry, director of Estate Management-I on deputation, has been sent back to his parent department because his alleged whistleblowing triggered an inquiry and forced the Capital Development Authority to abort the auction deals.

They claimed that his marching orders came as Cabinet Division Secretary Nargis Sethi readied to report the unsavoury findings of her inquiry into the affair to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf had blocked the auction deals after reports appeared that the 12 commercial plots in F-8 and G-9 greenbelts, which is an extension of Blue Area, each measuring 1,333.33 square yards, were committed to 11 pre-qualified bidders.

Since the 11 were the only buyers to turn up at the auction held in August, many CDA officers felt the situation would help the bidders dictate a lower price for the high value plots.

A CDA insider, who did not wish to be identified, said: “CDA top bosses looked on the defensive as Prime Minister Ashraf was said to be unhappy and Ms Sethi’s report supposedly highlights a few lacunas in the process of pre-qualification of bidders.”

Neither Capital Development Authority chairman Farkhand Iqbal, nor his spokesman, was available for comments. Continue reading

Encroachments to be removed from 6th Road

Rawalpindi: All encroachments on diverted traffic routes would be removed for the construction of 6th Road flyover, said Administrator Rawal Town Saif Anwar Jappa on Friday.

He directed the officials to take strict action against those creating hurdles in the smooth flow of traffic. The administrator asked the shopkeepers to remove all encroachments till Sunday else their goods will be confiscated and put to auction.

On the directives of Administrator, Town Municipal Officer (TMO) Chaudhry Liaquat Ali and Town Officer Regulation (TOR) Aftab Ahmed Chohan visited various designated traffic routes of Chandni Chowk, National Market, Saidpur Road, Stadium Road, Farooq Azam Road, Kuri Road asking the shopkeepers to remove their belongings till September 9. While, the traders representatives assured their cooperation by removing the encroachments. Continue reading

Another mega project starts sans EIA report

RAWALPINDI, Sept 7: The Punjab government is all set to launch work on the Rs1.017 billion 6th Road flyover from September 15 without getting the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report, which is mandatory for such projects.

The construction work will be started next week while the formal groundbreaking ceremony will be held on September 15.
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif will lay the foundation of the flyover and the Institute of Urology and Kidney Transplant at Shamsabad besides inaugurating the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology.

It may be noted that the Punjab government has become habitual to ignoring the environment impact assessment (EIA) reports before launching such projects.

It completed the Chandni Chowk flyover, Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology and Peshawar Road expansion projects without getting the EIA reports.

According to the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act 1997 (Section 12), the provincial secretaries and local administrative staff are bound to obtain the EIA report from the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) before starting any construction project.

The rule also stated that the officers needed to publish public notices in the national press about the projects in connection with the Environment Impact Assessment and the initial environmental examination reports.

As the general elections approach, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is trying to launch maximum development projects in the province, especially in the garrison city, to get support from the people.

For this purpose, it is launching development projects in a haste while ignoring the rules and regulations. The provincial government wants to complete the 6th Road Flyover within three months and to start a flyover and an underpass worth Rs1.5
billion at Pirwadhai Mor on Peshawar Road.

A senior official of Punjab Environment Protection Agency (Punjab-EPA) in Lahore requesting anonymity said the EIA report would assess the environmental impacts of a project and identifying options to minimise environmental damage.

He said the EIA gave an opportunity to the planners to point out the hurdles in clean environment at the early stage of the project and would provide an opportunity to address environment impacts.

He added that the environmental impact assessment mainly focused on the proposed physical developments such as highways, power stations, water resource projects and large-scale industrial facilities.

“We have applied for the EIA and it is under process,” said 6th Road flyover project director Jamshaid Khan while talking to Dawn. He said it was not a new project which would damage the environment as Chandni Chowk Flyover was 500 metre away from the new project site. Continue reading