ISLAMABAD: The Centaurus Mall has encroached on over 40 kanals of land worth Rs10 billion and is being run without obtaining a completion certificate, i.e. permission to occupy, from the Capital Development Authority’s Building Control Section, according to the audit report 2015-16 conducted by auditors from the office of the Accountant General of Pakistan.

The encroached upon land, which belongs to the CDA, is being used for as a parking area.

The Centaurus Tower is located in F-8 in the confluence of Jinnah and Faisal avenues and was built by Pak-Gulf Construction. Three of the towers, which are each 28 storeys high including three basements, are operational and a 42 storey hotel block, which was the bigger part of the project, is yet to be constructed.

40 kanals of land used as parking area, allotment of additional 3,000 sq yards at decreased rate caused CDA Rs84.7 million in losses

According to the audit report, the mall is being run without permission from the CDA.

The occupation of an incomplete high rise poses risk to human life, such as the Margalla Tower in F-10 which collapsed in the 2005 earthquake and where the completion certificate was not obtained before occupation, the audit report says.

An official from CDA’s Building Control Section said that owners of commercial buildings have to submit their plans for fighting fire, security arrangements and an approved building plan in order to obtain a completion certificate.

“The owner of the [Centaurus] mall has made several violations, such as running offices in the basement, which is meant for car parking purposes and the hotel tower is also yet to be made,” he said, adding that other than encroaching on CDA land, a portion of a service road is also being encroached upon by the mall management and this is why the owner is avoiding applying for a completion certificate.

The auditors recommend that occupation of the building without obtaining a completion certificate be investigated and action be taken against responsible officers.

About the encroached upon land being used as car parking, the audit report says that the CDA’s Planning Wing had initially allowed the mall management to construct a car park on five acres of the civic agency’s land adjacent to the mall without charging a fee.

When the mall management had later applied for the allocation of the plot to the mall in July 2013, the concerned CDA officer had declared the already developed plot as encroached upon state land.

According to the report, the Planning Wing had, in October 2013, requested the director enforcement to get the occupied land vacated, which was not acted upon. The report says that the CDA lost land worth Rs10 billion due to the encroachment.

The audit report says that the mall management had occupied the building in 2012 without obtaining a completion certificate from the CDA within three months after the expiry of the initial construction period.

According to the report, when the auditors pointed out the violations, the CDA replied that Pak-Gulf had occupied five floors of the towers by establishing a shopping mall.

“The owner of the project has been issued notice regarding [the] occupation of the building without [obtaining a] completion certificate and permission from the CDA. [The] case was referred to the CDA deputy commissioner for action,” the CDA reply reads. It says no real outcome of the case was reported.

The CDA is also accused of giving financial favours to the owner of the mall by not charging the updated rate for the sale of additional land which resulted in the loss of Rs84.7 million to the civic authority.

The report says that according to the offer letter for the allotment of an additional 3,000 square yards for the shopping mall, issued by the CDA in 2007, the Pak-Gulf company had to pay Rs684 million for the allotment of the additional land at the rate of Rs228,234 per square yard.

The audit observed that the CDA had entered into a second amended agreement with the said company in the same year for the allotment of an additional 3,000 square yards for Rs200,000 per square yard instead of the aforementioned rate.

“The allotment of land at the [decreased] rate resulted in a loss of Rs84.7 million,” the report said.

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2016