ISLAMABAD, April 11: Once again the Capital Development Authority (CDA) is seen lost in indifference to its responsibilities as political parties decorate the capital, covering every nook and cranny they can with posters and signs.
And the forever cash starved CDA has failed to set up a system to approve such advertisement or capitalise on it in any way in these elections.
Almost every lamppost on Faisal Avenue, Kashmir Highway, Islamabad Expressway, Blue Area and most of the commercial markets (Markaz) are packed with banners, signboards and streamers without carrying any stamp or sign of the CDA directorate of municipal administration (DMA).
An official of the DMA explained that whenever an advertisement was approved it carried a registration and advertisement number issued by the directorate.
An official of the finance wing said the CDA board had completely failed in capitalising on the important revenue generating activity with the elections almost a month away.
“The board has never considered generating revenue from this advertisement. As a result, leaders and workers of different political parties like the PPP, PML-N, PTI and Jamat-i-Islamai have put their banners on display on their own," the official said.
An investigation carried out by Dawn highlighted that the authority’s DMA had no specific rates fixed for the advertisers.
When this reporter visited the DMA to get the rates of advertisement on Thursday soon after Hamza Shafqat took over the charge, it emerged that the directorate had not fixed the advertisement rates for the elections.
“I have no idea what is the size of your streamer or the advertising banner?” asked a clerk.
“Just fill out a form and manage placement of your advertisement on your own. We have no set guidelines or rates,” he maintained.
Asked if any political party had approached the cash-starved civic agency for getting permission and paying the fee for an advertisement, the clerk said: “Do you think that the PPP, PML-N and PTI will pay a penny to the CDA? We have no writ in the city and our board and all the management is least concerned with revenue generation.”
A visit to a number of commercial centres showed that not a single banner or hoarding carried any CDA signature or approval.
When asked if his party had paid for the advertisement to the CDA, Raja Inam, a political party worker placing banners on 9th Avenue, said: “CDA does not need our money or fee for such a small banner. The civic agency has several other resources to earn money.”
He added that nobody had stopped them from placing banners, neither has anyone set a fixed fee for placing election banners.
Commenting on the topic, a finance wing official said CDA chairman Syed Tahir Shahbaz should order a commercial and performance audit.
However, when approached, the authority’s media wing in a press statement claimed: “Mr Shahbaz has taken notice of the pasting of banners and stickers on highways and traffic signals by supporters of candidates taking part in the national elections.”
It said the CDA chairman had also constituted a vigilance squad under member planning Syed Mustafain Kazmi, and directed it to take strict action against the violators.
Such activities are a severe violation of the code of conduct issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan and the CDA by-laws. Besides, they cause loss to the public exchequer by defacing public signboards.
However, instead of starting a campaign to clear the city from illegal banners and streamers, the authority in its press release only said: “All candidates contesting the elections should refrain from such illegal activities.”