In what appeared to be a public relations exercise to clear their name, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) held a hastily arranged press conference on Tuesday, after the premier and the Islamabad High Court (IHC) ordered inquiries into projects initiated by the civic agency.
The IHC has constituted a commission to investigate irregularities in several CDA projects, while petitions pending with the court have also brought CDA into the limelight for the wrong reasons.
The legislators were equally critical of the CDA board in Monday’s National Assembly session.
CDA Chairman Farkhand Iqbal, however, feels the authority is being maligned.
Talking to the media at a press briefing at the Convention Centre, Iqbal said, “We want to work and move forward, but there are some forces which are creating hurdles for us.”
Iqbal said CDA is in a financial crunch and needs funds to complete new projects. He repeated the same list of projects he has talked about time and again since becoming chairman in December. Plans for a 10-Megawatt coal-fired power station, two new sectors, a bus service for the capital and the construction of Margalla and 11th avenues cannot be completed without generating revenue, he said.
The CDA generates revenue mostly from property taxes and auctions. Last month, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf ordered the authority to stop the bidding process for 12 commercial plots in Blue Area, after reports surfaced that the auction’s pre-qualification process lacked transparency.
The prime minister had asked Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi to submit a detailed inquiry report. Iqbal, however, denied any wrongdoing at the press briefing.
It was reported initially that only 11 bidders were selected for the 12 plots, which are located between F-9 and G-9 and the pre-qualification process was not competitive. Iqbal said the actual number of shortlisted bidders is 16.
Responding to a question, Iqbal said, “If the federal government orders us to stop the auction, we will obey.” He said the CDA has to recover Rs1 billion from National University of Science & Technology and the General Headquarters each, and Rs2 billion from Centaurus.
The Capital Development Authority (CDA) auctioned 13 residential plots in Sector G-10/2 and five commercial plots located around the city at a hotel this week. It received bids worth Rs175 million for the residential plots.
Commercial plot 48-B at G-9 Markaz fetched the highest bid with Rs306,000 per square yard. The corner plot 136-B in Sector G-10/2 fetched the highest bid among residential plots.
The Express Tribune had reported on Monday that during a hearing at IHC, CDA Member Finance Javed Jehangir told Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui that CDA will pay compensation to the villagers from H-16 and I-17 using money from the auctions of commercial plots.
The auction was supervised by a committee headed by Jehangir. The committee will submit its recommendations to the CDA board, which will take the final decision for approving the auctions.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 12th, 2012.
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