A statement given by the city managers before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) about an abandoned multi-million rupee project in the federal capital has landed a former chairman of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) in trouble.
In October 2015, the NAB initiated an investigation into alleged wasteful expenditure in Rs1.1 billion cultural complex project at Shakarparian on the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
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The PAC had found enough evidence to refer the matter to the NAB.
Recently, the CDA submitted before the NAB that the project was “ill-conceived” and started without conducting any feasibility study providing the city managers a ground to abandon the project in 2009, almost one and a half years after its formal commencement.
Before it was abandoned, the CDA had spent Rs420 million on the construction.
The project was initiated in 2007 during the tenure of former CDA chairman Kamran Lashari.
The statement by the incumbent city managers that the project was “ill-conceived” forced the investigators to summon Lashari to justify that the project was ‘well-conceived’ rather than wasteful expenditure.
A NAB official said Lashari had not appeared before the investigators, even though a letter was written to him in this regard.
“NAB will soon send him a reminder,” he said.
When contacted, Lashari did not acknowledge any such incident and refused to comment further.
The mandate of NAB’s inquiry covers investigations into alleged corruption, corrupt practices in non-recovery of mobilisation advance amounting to Rs123 million to the contractor of the project and other wasteful expenditures.
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The project contractor, Builders Associates, is itself in trouble with investigation agencies due to its role in another case related to the Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) land purchasing.
The NAB officer further claimed that a representative of the contractor firm had submitted before the investigators that the CDA owed Rs480 million for work already done on site and the CDA could adjust mobilisation advance against the claim.
However, the CDA does not acknowledge Rs480 million claim of the contractor.
NAB has also asked the CDA to submit names of former chairmen and board members who served in the authority from 2007 till date and their decisions regarding the project.
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“The CDA has yet to hand over the record,” the NAB official claimed.
Under the cultural complex project, an auditorium, amphitheatre, two cinemas, two conference halls, cafeteria, coffee shop, pizza shop and other outlets would be build on 28.5 acres in the vicinity of Lotus Lake near Shakarparian.
The unfinished structures are still visible at the site.
The NAB official further said that the CDA had released Rs165.4 million to the contractor in a mobilisation advance against two bank guarantees.
The advance was supposed to be recovered within 15 months of the commencement of work.
The civic agency failed to encash the guarantees, which expired in April 2009, after the contractor obtained a stay from a local court.
He said the agreement signed with the contractor was also flawed as it clearly favoured the contractor in case of default.
“There seem to be irregularities on the part of the CDA at every turn,” the NAB official said adding that it appeared as if, in connivance with employees of a private bank and the CDA, the contractor managed to reimburse his guarantees in his favour.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2016.
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