New CDA chairman: City boss Farkhand Iqbal removed

New chief Javed Awan faced with tremendous challenges on first day.

Waqas Naeem October 02, 2012


Once proclaimed the “King of Islamabad” by his progeny, the tenure of Engineer Farkhand Iqbal as Capital Development Authority (CDA) chairman has come to an abrupt end. Iqbal’s short stint was mired in controversy, with allegations of corruption and mismanagement tarnishing the civic agency’s already-low standing reputation.

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Monday appointed Javed Iqbal Awan as the new CDA chairman. Awan, a BPS-22 District Management Group officer, will replace Iqbal, whose 10-month tenure as chairman was one of the shortest in the agency’s history.

Awan had been an Officer on Special Duty (OSD) for the past two months. He has previously served as the secretary for Interfaith Harmony and Capital Administration and Development Division, according to Shafqat Jalil, the prime minister’s press secretary. He also served as the secretary of the Economic Affairs Division for a short period, he added.

According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Secretariat, Awan’s appointment was made after “informal discussions with people belonging to different walks of life”. The statement also hinted at the appointment of new CDA board members in the near future.

In addition to the chairman, the CDA board is composed of one member each for the finance, administration, planning and design, estate management, environment and engineering departments.

Awan’s first set of challenges will be addressing a plethora of CDA-linked controversies that have risen in the last year.

During Iqbal’s tenure, which started last December, the civic agency had been questioned by the National Accountability Bureau, which initiated an inquiry into a controversial project to replace streetlights around the city with LED lights. Under the project, the CDA had decided to spend Rs6.5 billion to replace conventional street lights with LED lights, despite numerous official and unofficial parties calling the project unfeasible and overpriced.

There were allegations that the contract had been given based on political ties rather than to the lowest bidder.

NAB finally canned the project after finding that the civic agency was procuring LED streetlights for over Rs100,000 per piece when the same lights were available in the open market for Rs20,000.

In April, Iqbal was booked for illegally taking home the black box from the Bhoja Air crash site and keeping it with him for a day.

City administration sources felt he wanted to personally unveil the cockpit voice recorder at a press conference.

A few days later, his son was caught on camera illegally driving a government car away from the scene of an accident, which eyewitnesses, including a number of journalists present in nearby Kohsar Market, blamed him for. He was also accused of physically assaulting the alleged victims. The police refused to register an FIR against the boy, allegedly after his father intervened.

In August, the prime minister ordered a halt to the bidding for 12 commercial plots in Blue Area due to concerns about the pre-qualification process for the bidding. He also ordered Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi to submit a detailed inquiry report on the issue.

The media had reported that the bidding process was made less competitive and the auction prices lowered because only 11 bidders were shortlisted for the plots’ auction after a non-transparent pre-qualification phase. Iqbal had denied these reports in a media briefing in September.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2012.


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