The Capital Development Authority (CDA) chairman was given three days by the Islamabad High Court on Friday to respond to allegations against the controversial Rs6 billion LED streetlight project.
Justice Muhammad Azim Khan Afridi of the IHC issued the notice to CDA Chairman Engineer Farkhand Iqbal and directed him to submit a reply within three days. The petition was filed by two lawyers, and requested the court to direct the CDA to halt the costly project and prevent misappropriation of public money. The CDA plans to replace some 65,000 conventional streetlights in the city with LED lights.
Petitioners Muhammad Naseem and Shajjar Abbas contended that the CDA has awarded the LED contract to a company named Oslo. The company, they said, is backed by an influential Islamabad-based businessman who has close ties to the upper echelon of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party.
The petitioners maintained that the Planning Commission’s Central Development Working Party had also rejected the project in October 2010 and marked some observations on the proposal including the unit price of an LED light.
The financial rate of return of the project was not favourable and the CDA did not consider this, Abbas said. The civic authority was advised to consult the law ministry to ensure transparency because Transparency International (TI) also expressed concern over the opaque manner in which the contract was awarded, he added.
According to TI, the CDA is procuring LEDs for Rs150,000 per piece which is excessive, considering the lights are available for Rs20,000. The entire cost of the project cannot be more than Rs1.36 billion if calculated using the lower rate for the lights.
In their petition, they said that “the Rs6.5 billion contract awarded will burden the exchequer as the Asian Development Bank had refused to finance the project”. The National Accountability Bureau had also raised objections on the tender process for the project, the petition added.
The petitioners requested the court to direct the CDA chairman to stop pursuing the project.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2012.
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