ISLAMABAD: Instead of following the guidelines for annual allotments, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has allotted stalls in the weekly sasta bazaars to influential figures, including a former PML-N minister, on a permanent basis.
According to records from the Directorate of Municipal Administration (DMA) available with Dawn, the CDA board in 1985 approved the Administrative Board Orders and Instructions, a policy for allotments in five weekly markets in H-9, Bhara Kahu, G-10 and G-6.
The DMA has been placed under the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) since the local government elections.
Under the procedure a management committee headed by the municipal administration director ensures that the rules are properly implemented and that no middleman is allowed to function in any capacity in the entire business carried out in the markets.
Six stalls in two markets were allotted to a former minister, documents reveal
The rules state: “Allotment will be made on purely temporary basis by issuance of a licence for one year ending 31st December which will be renewed in the month of January.”
“Preference will be given to the vegetable growers/poultry farmers, government servants, handicapped persons, widows, students, other non professional persons and professional petty shopkeepers.”
One of the conditions to run a stall is that “a licensee cannot hold more than one stall at a time or operate in more than one bazar at a time”.
However, rather than allotting stalls to the deserving, the CDA has distributed them among influential figures.
Former Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) minister Tariq Fazal Chaudhry was among the beneficiaries, according to records regarding previous allotments, and was even allotted stalls while he was minister. The CDA operated under CADD at the time.
The documents revealed that some stalls were allotted to “parliamentarians and their relatives”. They said three stalls “were allotted to Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry in H-9 Weekly Bazar” and another three were allotted to him in G-6.
When contacted, Mr Chaudhry said he was never allotted a stall while minister. He added that the CDA had cancelled all the allotments of kiosks and stalls, and was asked to restore them by a National Assembly standing committee.
Mr Chaudhry admitted that he owned stalls in the past which were cancelled and restored later on, but added that he “never took possession of these stalls”.
The documents also stated that the CDA is collecting fees at the rates approved in 2000, resulting in a recurring loss for the authority. The total expenditure on salaries paid to employees deputed at the markets is greater than the revenue generated by them.
A senior CDA official said that a surprise inspection of the H-9 market had found that most of the stalls had been sublet and the original allottees were not present at the stalls.
“When asked about the payment of the CDA’s dues, they said they were playing Rs6,000 to Rs12,000 per month in rent to the allottee or possession holder of the stall,” the official said.
The inspection team also found that most stalls have been converted or amalgamated into larger stalls and superstores “without approval of the competent authority and without charging the special rates according to the size of restructured big stalls”.
In a few cases, more than one stall was allotted to the same person in the same market, even though according to CDA policy a licensee cannot hold more than one stall at a time.
Trades were also found to have been changed in numerous cases. Stallholders allowed to sell fruits and vegetables according to CDA records were selling crockery or other commodities and items without the authority’s approval.
CDA spokesperson Safdar Shah, when contacted, said the authority has not allotted stalls after the MCI was established, which he said now looks after the weekly markets.
Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2018