Asked to do more: CDA sells land for survival

ISLAMABAD, Nov 19: Unable to think of a new business idea, the new leadership of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) Monday stuck to the decades-old formula of auctioning land to tide over the CDA’s pressing financial problems.

“Despite depressed real estate prices, the CDA is likely to raise Rs149.82 million from the two-day grand auction of residential and commercial plots,” the civic body announced in a press release after the auction of 10 residential plots on the first day.

It said the auction of the plots located in G-10/2 received good response from the bidders, with the highest bid of Rs51,000 per square yard posted for a 355.5 sq yd plot. Bids for the smaller 272.2 sq yd plots ranged between Rs5,000 and Rs46,500 per sq yd.

Each bidder had to deposit a token sum of Rs1 million to participate in the auction.However, the CDA Board has “the final authority to accept or reject the bids received,” the press release reminded the bidders.

More attractive and expensive real estate would be on offer on Tuesday when CDA auctions commercial plots, located in Blue Area and Northern Strip.

These plots are meant for building a filling station, shops and economy flats on prime lands facing or in the sectors E-11, F-8, F-9, G-8, G-9 and Markaz F-11 and G-11.

But many in the CDA did not look in thrills at the activity, considering what preceded it in the recent past.

It is the first venture in generating funds by the CDA chairman Syed Tahir Shahbaz who was installed in the office last month to revitalise the civic body in the aftermath of a fouled up auction in August.

Prime Minister Pervaiz Ashraf had to block the sale of 12 commercial plots to 11 “prequalified bidders”, rather than in “open auction”, by the then CDA leadership, which raised a huge controversy.

The prime minister also brought in Mr Shahbaz who reshuffled the heads of key departments and the CDA Board members to revamp the organisation.

They had the task of devising new business models for the near bankrupt CDA.

“But there is no new thinking, no new projects. The new team also is banking on selling plots,” said an officer of the estate wing of CDA.

This was the standard formula for riding out of crisis, while the residential schemes of the CDA lie in limbo, raising doubts about its development capabilities and poor business sense.

A finance wing official said the new chairman has yet to receive concrete ideas from “his core team – member finance, member planning, and member estate”.