Preferential treatment: City bosses preparing parallel rules to benefit NGO

CDA, Indus Heritage Trust preparing a new draft of separate and parallel rules for Art and Craft Village.


Azam Khan June 22, 2011

ISLAMABAD:


To appease an influential non-government organisation (NGO), the Capital Development Authority (CDA) is all set to introduce a new set of service rules for Art and Craft Village (ACV), it has been learnt. The need to change the rules arose after irregularities in the management of the village at Shakarparian hills surfaced.


Sources informed The Express Tribune that CDA has recommended a draft of separate rules for the village. The minutes of two official meetings, held on March 23 and on June 18, reveal that CDA gave Indus Heritage Trust, which runs the ACV, a complete control over its human resource along with legal and financial matters.

The management of the trust has succeeded in keeping itself out of the ambit of the Environment Directorate of the CDA, sidelining Member Environment Mian Wahiduddin, and dissociating itself from its affairs. Moreover, it has also managed to get Member Planning Tahir Shamshad appointed in the management committee. The management committee of the project was changed several times on the request of IHT.

“Draft Service Rules for ACV be put up on file with proper justification for having separate set of rules for the village,” the minutes of ACV Management Committee’s meeting held on June 6 revealed. This, however, is against the bylaws of the civic agency.

The law department has already termed the move of preparing a separate service rules for the project, as illegal and unlawful. The department mentioned in its written statement that service rules of the authority are applicable to all its departments and projects without any discrimination.

Moreover, an official said that IHT wanted to replace all of the employees of ACV, delaying their salaries for the last two moths. A senior official of CDA told The Express Tribune that the IHT chairperson had illegally charge sheeted Director Operations of ACV for not following her instructions. The official also said that director operations of a project is appointed by the CDA board and no one from outside the authority could question him.

But, in the June 6 meeting, the IHT chairperson was of the view that the manager, operations, of ACV was appointed by the Management Committee and he can be charge-sheeted by the management.

The sources said that the IHT management also forced CDA to include separate minutes sheet of March 23 meeting, along with the official minutes drafted by Director Staff to CDA chairman. It is again in violation of rules to draft parallel minutes of the same meeting, a source in the law directorate said.

Earlier, former chairman Kamran Lashari had given the control of ACV to IHT in violation of rules.

A CDA board member said that the civic body had the powers to undo the controversial agreement. According to him, such commercial operations could not be termed ‘voluntary efforts’.

So far, some eight functions, including a mega event on International Women Day, have been held in the village. Sungi Foundation, a founder member of IHT, collected millions of rupees through these functions but it did not pay the electricity bill of Rs126,711.

Similarly, IHT spent Rs10.7 million in violations of CDA bylaws and the amount has not been reconciled. The meeting suggested third party audit of the IHT.

Earlier, an internal review and audit report conducted by Grant Thornton International Limited about the affairs of IHT revealed several legal and financial flaws.

At present, IHT is operating the village with minimum interference of CDA, while Sungi Foundation is supervising 50 shops, five exclusively VIP artists studios, purposely built exhibition hall, top of the art research and design centre, exclusively made students hostel and male and female artisans dormitories in ACV. 

Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd, 2011.

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