ISLAMABAD, Dec 7: An office created in the Capital Development Authority (CDA) some 10 years ago to manage urban development is to be abolished, mainly to arrest the financial troubles it brought, the CDA Board decided on Friday.
Most of the Rs10 billion projects that the Project Management Office (PMO) managed raised controversies, landed the CDA in courts or remained unfinished, according to the CDA sources.
“In its meeting on Friday, the Board approved the dissolution of the PMO and devolving its functions to different departments of the CDA they originally and technically belonged,” the civic body’s spokesman Ramzan Sajid told Dawn.
Indeed, the PMO had usurped a number of development subjects of the planning and engineering wings of CDA, he said.
PMO was created by the Musharraf-era CDA chairman Kamran Lashari in his frenzy to beautify and add cultural content to the city, with emphasis on providing leisure facilities to the citizens.
CDA officials approached by Dawn for comments found faults with almost every project that the PMO managed. They said that since the PMO lacked capacity, the deals it made and the contracts it signed entangled CDA in litigations, losing the civic body face and money.
They reeled off a list of projects that cost the CDA dearly: the Rs1.28 billion Citizens Club that the PMO located in F-9 Park without consulting the planning division; the Rs1.2 billion Cultural Complex at Shakarparian; the Rs700 million Ladies Club,
with a marriage hall in G-10; the Rs2 billion Arts and Craft Village; the Rs400 million mini sports complexes and the Rs50 million gyms and libraries in different sectors; the Centaurus Tower; the Grand Hyatt Hotel; and the Rs450 million unfinished renovation of CDA headquarters.
Costs escalated as litigation and raging controversies stalled many projects half-way. Only last week, the Islamabad High Court appointed a judicial commission to probe “the dubious dealings of CDA officials” in big projects.
These tangles are allegedly rooted in “shady clauses” in land sale deeds, contracts and sanctions for building restaurants, and relate to such cases as the land sold to Centaurus and the Grand Hyatt Hotel, big investors in the urban development of
Islamabad, the hilltop Monal Restaurant, the allotment of land in F-10 to a private firm Minawa which built flats on it, sold them and left – without paying a penny for the land.