ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary committee on Monday expressed dissatisfaction over delay in two housing projects in Islamabad under the Ministry of Housing and Works.

The ministry has failed to accelerate work to complete the two projects-Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation (FGEHF) G-14 initiated in 2009 and Bhara Kahu Housing Project initiated in 2004.

Assembly Standing Committee on Housing & Works met with Member National Assembly Haji Muhammad Akram Ansari in the chair. Minister for Housing & Works, Akram Khan Durrani told the committee that the ministry had signed an agreement with a private firm regarding Bhara Kahu Housing Project in 2009.

The minister said that the ministry in collaboration with the firm purchased around 3000 kanals of land for the project. Under the agreement, the firm was to provide cleared plots of land to applicants.

He said that the ministry and the private firm had agreed that payment for 500 kanals will not be released until the completion of the project.

The minister said that payment for developments of the plots was to be released to the firm in installments- subject to completion of the stages of the project. However, the private firm, in violation of the said clauses, has been demanding the payment which is slowing down the project.

He further said that the ministry’s consultant NESPAK judged the available land to be insufficient for the development of 3253 plots.

The contractor was asked to provide another 800 kanals of land which NESPAK said was needed to develop the project. “However, the company has not been following our directives,” he said.

The minister added that on January 9, the ministry served a legal notice to the said company. “We are still trying to resolve the matter amicably. If a settlement is not reached, a new firm will be hired,” the minister told the committee.

Regarding Sector G-14, the ministry official told the committee that illegal occupation of land is causing delays in completion of the project.

However, they said that original owners are being paid so that possession can be taken. “We are in touch with Islamabad Capital Territory Administration to take possession of the land,” said a representative of the ministry.

The committee directed the ministry to expedite work at both housing projects as government employees are in need of these plots.

Earlier, the committee discussed the corruption cases in the Public Works Department (PWD), a subsidiary of the housing ministry.

The committee was told that around 99 charge sheets were served to officers and officials of PWD for their involvement in various cases of corruption and financial irregularities over the last few years.

The committee was told by head of PWD that 32 cases of embezzlement, fraud and violation of Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules have been reported to NAB. Forty-eight inquiries against senior and junior officers are underway and 52 officers are being investigated by the FIA.

PML-N MNA Rajab Ali Khan Baloch expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of PWD.

He said that during the previous government’s tenure, several projects worth billions of rupees were announced for various constituencies; however, these projects never existed on ground. “Despite the prime minister’s written directive, has not begun proper investigation,” he said.

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2015

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