Appointment ambiguity: Delayed verdict hindering CDA work

IHC yet to decide on petition challenging removal of former planning wing head.

Danish Hussain December 01, 2013
Since Kazmi’s removal, not a single CDA design vetting committee meeting has been held. PHOTO: FILE


The work of the civic agency’s all important planning and design wing has been badly affected due to pending litigation.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) still has to decide on a petition filed by former Capital Development Authority (CDA) Planning and Design member Mustafain Kazmi over his controversial removal.

The delayed verdict comes as a surprise because on September 18, the Supreme Court, while disposing of a petition filed by the CDA against Kazmi’s restoration, had directed the IHC to decide the case within one month.

Now six weeks past the SC deadline, the case is still pending before the IHC.

The apex court had also directed incumbent CDA Planning Member Waseem Ahmad Khan to continue working until a decision came on Kazmi’s petition in IHC.

The uncertain situation has caused fresh workflow problems for the already-troubled planning wing.

Senior posts at the wing, including planning director general (DG), planning deputy DG and building control deputy DG have been lying vacant for months. Moreover, several senior officials from the wing including the planning and architecture directors have been appointed officers on special duty.

The gravity of the situation can be judged from the fact that since Kazmi’s removal, not even a single meeting of the CDA’s design vetting committee has been held, while the building control section has not passed a single commercial building drawing.

“Everything is virtually at a standstill. There is a complete ban on issuance of any sort of no objection certificate by the planning wing. There is also a ban on change of trade, which furthered the miseries of the business community,” said a senior official requesting anonymity.

“Almost all projects are initiated from the planning and design wing. If the situation here is so bad, one can evaluate the overall performance of CDA,” he added.

The incumbent member planning, whose fate hangs in the balance till the decision on the case by IHC, finds it easy to return every file after writing “please speak; discuss”.

“He (Khan) is not ready to take responsibility. Instead of clearing hundreds of pending files, he is just piling up the new files on the already pending ones,” the official said.

On the other hand, the CDA chairman also seems indifferent towards the situation. “The chairman was appointed by the current regime to streamline the messy affairs of the civic agency. But today, the situation is more complex and disorderly,” the official added.

Kazmi was removed from his position on August 15, 2013, about six months after being appointed.

After he moved the IHC, on August 25, the court ordered the suspension of Khan --- formerly chief metropolitan planner for the Lahore Development Authority.

However, the CDA later challenged the IHC decision in the Supreme Court on the pretext that the IHC had no jurisdiction to interfere in the transfer orders of a civil servant.

However, the Supreme Court disagreed and told the IHC to wind up the case within a month.

When contacted, Kazmi declined to comment, saying “the matter is sub-judice”. The CDA chairman was not available for comment.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 2nd, 2013.


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