ISLAMABAD, June 30: A non-governmental organisation has called upon the National Accountability Bureau’s chairman, Admiral (retired) Fasih Bokhari, to investigate alleged irregularities of around Rs332 million in establishment of Potohari Arts & Craft Village at a public park close to Pak-China Centre.
The Indus Heritage Trust (IHT), run by members of civil society, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in January 2005 with the Capital Development Authority (CDA) for establishing the arts & crafts village.
The IHT was to promote and display artisans at works and their products at the park, preserving traditional crafts and textiles, generating income for craftspeople, besides establishing a showcase of Pakistan cultural identity.
The village has a cluster of huts representing regions of Pakistan with at least 40 to 50 main craft stalls and six to 10 food stalls, an open air theatre, a baradari and an exhibition hall besides a Sarai (temporary resting place) to house crafts people since they come from different parts of the country.
“It’s now a commercial venture and contractors of restaurants and kiosks are commercially utilising the facility and there is no more promotion of arts & crafts and the artists at the park,” said Sidiqa Malik, chairperson of the IHT.
A visit to the arts & craft village indicated that a ferris wheel was being erected at the centre of the park land and small restaurants were given larger spaces besides no CDA official was present at the park to look after the vacant spaces now used for commercial purposes since last few weeks.
Few contract workers were also sitting in a tent within the park premises who were working on the establishment of the ferris wheel.
Ms Malik said: “All the artists who came from different parts of the country were forced to vacate the village (park) once a dispute started between the CDA and the IHT in March this year mainly by commercial contractors and the whole drive for the promotion of arts and crafts and the artists were dumped.”
Information gathered by Dawn highlights that Arts & Craft Village was established in 2005 and was formally inaugurated in March 2012.
Total funding was given by the CDA while it was to be run through a management committee headed by the CDA chairman.
The IHT was to work closely with the CDA and was providing its expertise for the promotion of artists free of cost who were brought at the park for promotion of their culture and traditional handicrafts.
Ms Malik maintained: “The public park land can’t be used for commercial venture because of a Supreme Court decision given in connection with Jubilee Park F-7.
The NAB’s chairman Fasih Bukahri should probe irregularities made in the establishment of the park and IHT is willing to provide all the information to the bureau.”
The Supreme Court in its decision in 2006, had cancelled a lease between the CDA and a private party for the construction of a mini golf park at Jublee Park F-7 (close to Kohsar Police Station in Jinnah Super).
However, with the CDA chairman, Farkhand Iqbal, not responding to text messages and a number of calls to clarify his authority’s position, the chairperson of IHT insisted: “The CDA had a positive role in development of the arts village but few officials from within and outside the authority played foul and resulted in cancellation of the MoU in March 2012 and the matter is pending in a civil court.”
The IHT chief also showed tempered documents of CDA board to Dawn alleging that officials of the authority were part of the alleged scam which resulted in mistrust between the CDA and IHT leading to cancellation of the MoU.