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Islamabad: No progress in inquiry into Rs70 million fraud in Kashmir Highway toll
09-09-2009, 07:12 AM
Post: #1
Islamabad: No progress in inquiry into Rs70 million fraud in Kashmir Highway toll
Mobarik A. Virk
No progress has been made in the inquiry ordered by the Chairman of the Capital Development Authority (CDA), Imtiaz Inayat Elahi, into the Kashmir Highway Toll Plaza scam in which the authority has suffered over Rs70 million losses.

Sources in the CDA, when contacted, told ‘The News’ that the chairman ordered this inquiry after massive administrative and financial irregularities were reported in the affairs of the construction of this new toll plaza on the Kashmir Highway.

“The chairman ordered immediate take over of the operations of the toll plaza from the contractor, M/s Signages Security Systems, and installed CDA’s own staff for toll collection from the Revenue Directorate of the authority. At the same time, on July 16 last he ordered a thorough inquiry into the allegations of administrative and financial irregularities in the project and set a deadline of three weeks for submitting the findings of the inquiry,” the sources in the CDA said.

It was learnt that the inquiry committee appointed by the CDA chairman is headed by the Director-General (Environment) Dr Sheikh Suleman and has Director Bulk Water Supply Shahid Mehmood, and Director Law Abdul Baqi, as its members.

“However, the inquiry committee has not yet conducted the inquiry and finalised its findings that it was supposed to submit to the chairman within a period of three weeks. Apparently this inquiry is unlikely to be taken up seriously and would eventually become part of many more such inquiries that are rotting in the files with dust accumulating even thicker on those with the passage of time,” the sources said.

However, when contacted, CDA Chairman Imtiaz Inayat Elahi told ‘The News’ that the inquiry would be held according to the laid down rules and those found guilty would be taken to the task. He said that he would look into as to what progress has been made in the matter and told the concerned staff to submit a report about the progress in inquiry to him within next 48 hours.

Meanwhile, the sources in the CDA pointed out that as some very senior officers of the authority are involved in this scam in which the inquiry has been ordered, so it is understandable that every effort would be made to make it fizzle out and never reach a conclusion.

Concerned officials in the CDA told ‘The News’ that the inquiry has been ordered against the Consultant Engineering, Arshad Naseem Qureshi; the then director Special Projects, Sanaullah Aman, Manager, Project Management Office (PMO) Farhanul Haq Hasni, Director Law Mohammad Amin and Director Special Projects Sohail Ursani.

The sources in the concerned directorate of the authority, when contacted by ‘The News’, on the condition of anonymity, said that the chairman of the inquiry committee has so far issued ‘Statement of Allegations’ to the officers against whom the inquiry is being conducted under the ‘Removal from Service Special Power Ordinance, 2002’.

“So far we have received a couple of responses in answer to this ‘Statement of Allegations’ served to these officers but some are still awaited. So, practically the inquiry committee will hold its first meeting when it would received a response from every officers to whom this ‘Statement of Allegations’ has been served,” the sources said.

Meanwhile, according to information available from the CDA the contract to construct this Model Toll Plaza was awarded on ‘Built, Operate & Transfer’ (BOT) basis and the terms and conditions laid down in the contract were highly lopsided, favouring the contractor.

The sources said that the Engineering Consultant for this project was supposed to be hired from outside CDA but somehow CDA’s own Consultant (Engineering) got a decision approved by the CDA Board in his favour to look after this project, effectively sidelining the Member (Engineering) of the authority to have any say.

They conceded that many a loopholes were left in the contract which were later exploited by the contractor and not only they delayed the construction of this Model Toll Plaza but they even refused to deposit the contractual BOT amount with the CDA from January 2009 on the pretext that they have been suffering losses after heavy traffic was diverted to the IJP Road following the Marriott Hotel blast.

On refusal of the contractor to deposit the contractual money with the CDA the authority decided to took over the control of the plaza and installed its own staff at the Toll Plaza. But the practice only further added to the losses being suffered by the authority and at present the authority is suffering an approximate loss of Rs50,000 to Rs60,000 daily.

Now the CDA has decided to re-auction the toll plaza and has set Rs40 million as the reserve price. However, because of the high reserve price set by the CDA no bidder has come forth to take over the contract so far.

Meanwhile, the CDA is continuing to manage the toll plaza at its own, resulting in losses on various counts. On the other hand the construction of the toll plaza has been halted as the contractor has already gone to the court of law against CDA’s action.

The sources in the Law Directorate of the CDA told ‘The News’ that because of the flaws left in the contract the position of the CDA is quite weak in the case and there are chances that the CDA may end up with the egg in its face.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=197497
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