Can CDA be saved from increasing political interference?
Recently, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) observed that political appointments have marred the affairs of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and this practice was believed to be one of the reasons for maladministration, corruption and non-provision of basic civic amenities to the residents.
Due to the unprecedented political interference, the trend of inducting ‘favourites’ on deputation in the civic agency is also on the rise. It is believed that unless this trend is stopped, the performance of the civic body will remain deteriorating.
“General perception of the civic body is not acceptable and political appointments further polluted its affairs,” IHC Judge Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui observed while giving verdict on a petition in a land acquisition case on May 4.
A senior official of the authority’s human resource directorate said at present over 100 deputationists were working with the authority and majority of them had been inducted after the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) came to power. He said the estate wing of the CDA had been dominated by the deputationists right from its member in the CDA board to directors and deputy directors.
Lamenting the political interference in the affairs of the civic agency, the judge observed that: “I have no hesitation in observing that affairs of the CDA are being run through cryptic approach, dubious dealing and enigmatic mannerism. Nobody is ready to listen and grant relief to any deserving person against his accrued and established rights unless lucratic influence is exercised or political pressure exerted. The functionaries of the CDA are found napping in performance of their statutory duties; resultantly, the aggrieved persons invoke the jurisdiction of courts and unfortunately even orders of the courts are being frustrated and ridiculed. At times, one gathers the impression as if the CDA functionaries have taken the oath that they would not perform their duties without sucking the blood of deserving and the poor by way of getting satisfaction of bribe.”
Insiders say political lords of the CDA have appointed their blue-eyed people on deputation so that they can meet their agendas. On the other hand, the basic charm for the deputationists in the CDA is that they become eligible for getting a plot in Islamabad after one year service with the authority. They do not enjoy this opportunity in their parent departments.
As these deputations always keep in their mind that one day they will have to be repatriated to their parent organisations, they often try to meet their own and their political lords’ interests instead of addressing people’s problems. In this way, the civic agency has to earn a bad name.
CDA’s spokesman Ramzan Sajid, however, said there was a quota for the provinces in the authority under which people from all parts of the country, with a limited number, could be inducted.
“The CDA chairman is competent enough to appoint anyone on deputation but a requisition was required to send to the lender department to get its employee on deputation,” he said.
The Mazdoor Union of the CDA recently held a demonstration in front of the chairman office against what they termed illegal recruitments by the management and political influence.
Shabab Bokhari, the president of the ‘defeated group’ (CDA Employees Federation) is stated to be a relative of Chairman Senate Nayyar Hussain Bokhari. Since Mr Bokhari became the Senate chairman, the employees’ federation has emerged as the most influential group in the civic agency. In the recent past, some 28 people were recruited in the CDA on the recommendation of the group.
“As many as 28 people have recently been recruited in violation of merit in the basic pay scale of 1-17. Besides, since March 9, about 30 officials have been promoted to higher ranks in violation of rules,” alleged Chaudhry Yasin, the general secretary of CDA Mazdoor Union.
According to the rules, he added, every government department was bound to first advertise any post it wanted to fill or acquire services of any specialist.
“Out of all the deputationists, 18 are working as directors in various units denying the right to promotion to several regular employees, he said.
In utter violation of the rules and regulations as well as the verdict of the Supreme Court, the CDA has also allotted plots, worth billions of rupees, to officers who had joined it on deputation. Some employees were even allotted more than one plots.
Giving some suggestions to improve the performance of the CDA, the IHC observed: “If some remedial steps are not taken, this titanic civic body would sink in deep waters of irrelevant considerations, political influence and stinking practices.”
It is also suggested that the chairman of the civic body should be appointed for the period of at least five years with a pledge that he would bear political pressures and serve on merit.