Without cash: CDA loses its charm

Published Dec 23, 2012 12:15am

ISLAMABAD, Dec 22: Big contractors who once used to visit the Capital Development Authority headquarters in their SUVs and BMWs to seek or strike deals are a rare sight now - one sure sign that the CDA has fallen on bad days.

Prospects of securing a fat CDA contract, or prized land in Islamabad, kept them, and property tycoons, coming to CDA until judicial actions sent former prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani home and tightened the scrutiny of CDA in middle of 2012.

“There are no more contractors entering our headquarters in flashy vehicles,” a guard at the gate told Dawn, giving the real reason for their disappearance.

“CDA has no money and our new management is not going to launch any new project. You know, projects run on money,” he said, criticising the PPP-led government.

What for? “Even the jiayalas (diehard party workers) would brush us aside and force themselves in the office of chairman, or CDA Board members, to demand that their wishes are met without any hassle,” said the guard.

His grudge was that the jiyalas could gain entry to the top officer of CDA just by flashing their party card, while low level staff of CDA could not even dare approach his juniors.

Times have changed for the better since the change at the top and reshuffle of the board in October.

“With the influence peddlers gone, the CDA workers have been breathing easy,” agreed a CDA official when told about the guard's remarks.

But the financial problems continue to haunt the CDA and its development schemes.

According to a treasury department official, the four development projects the CDA has undertaken since February 2011 - the expansion of Kashmir Highway and Margallah Avenue, and the Park Enclave and the Margallah Retreat housing schemes - are behind schedule for want of money or poor planning.

“The Rs1.2 billion Margallah Avenue was not needed at all, and work on it is on hold, mainly because of shortage of funds and political bickerings,” said the official.

Every single ongoing project of CDA is in limbo, according to him.

“Besides, some PPP legislators forced CDA to employ extra hands who were not needed and only increased the financial burden of the civic agency,” the official said, hoping development of the city would pick up under the new government to be elected in 2013.

CDA spokesman Ramzan Sajid, however, disagreed with “wrong” picture painted by others about CDA's financial woes.

“We are out of the financial troubles. It is wrong to say we are facing financial woes,” he told Dawn.

His statement showed his ignorance of the fact that the completion date of a number of projects, like Kashmir Highway's expansion, has been moved from February 2013 to February 2015 because of financial constraints.

Also the Park Enclave scheme could not take off as the funds meant for it had been diverted to the Margallah Avenue and to pay the salaries of over 20,000 workers of CDA.


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