ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court was on Thursday informed that for the first time in its history the Capital Development Authority (CDA) was completing and executing projects from its own resources.

According to a joint report by the CDA and Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) submitted to the apex court, the CDA had often been identified as a financially bankrupt organisation but due to collection of pending dues and on account of stringent fiscal discipline it has secured a balance of Rs13 billion.

The report was furnished before a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed, which is seized with an appeal moved by Pak Gulf Construction, the Centaurus Mall, against the Nov 10, 2017, Islamabad High Court (IHC) single bench order to launch an anti-encroachments campaign all over the city.

The appeal had questioned if the single bench in chambers could embark upon a drive and open ended campaign to remove encroachments all over the city when no such request or prayer was raised in the case with which the high court was seized with.

In one of the previous hearings, the Supreme Court had asked the city authorities to furnish a report suggesting steps for clearing encroachments from roads and highways in Islamabad as well as other projects.

Rs2bn will be spent on settlement of land acquisition liabilities, SC informed

The report submitted to the apex court stated that Rs13 billion had indeed been committed for the projects so that they were not used up in a common pool.Still, a surplus of Rs3 to Rs4 billion was available with the CDA, the report said.

Similarly, Rs2 billion have been committed for the settlement of liabilities of land acquisition which will be discharged once a regular board is appointed.

Referring to the issues with MCI, the report explained that rather than the government it was the CDA which had provided funds to it (MCI) as a loan after approval by the cabinet. But this loan had a detrimental impact on the CDA, both administratively and financially.

Though nearly Rs19bn have been provided during the past four years, a fraction has been recouped in terms of property taxes.

On Sept 16, 2019, Mayor of Islamabad Sheikh Ansar Aziz had also approached the Supreme Court, seeking immediate handing over of the directorates that fall under its domain under the Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Act 2015 as well as allocation of a budget.

The mayor had also pleaded that the administrative control of all the employees transferred to the MCI be giver under the complete control of the corporation in matters relating to discipline, transfers and postings.

On Jan 6, 2017, the Ministry of Interior through a notification divided the rights, assets and liabilities among the MCI, CDA and the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

The mayor had contended that according to the Act, the Building Control and Estate Management was the responsibility of MCI but CDA had not handed over the control of the department to it.

Similarly, property tax collection falls within the domain of the MCI but the CDA has not handed over the department to the MCI rather was still collecting the tax.Moreover, no development funds have been allocated for the MCI, the petition alleged, adding MCI controlled the transfer/posting of its employees on paper only as practically it was the CDA that interfered in such matters through the assistance of the CDA union. This practice is causing severe interference in the administrative functioning of MCI since no disciplinary action can be taken by MCI against any delinquent official.

The mayor had also pleaded that the assets that had been transferred to MCI were in fact liabilities while assets which actually should be transferred to MCI had been held back by the CDA.

Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2020