RAWALPINDI: After a fire incident in the office of the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) on Friday, the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) has, as a precautionary measure, handed over the security of the land acquisition data of Ring Road Project to the police.
The offices of the RDA land acquisition branch and Wasa are located in different blocks but on the same premises.
The fire erupted in a room in the Wasa office before Iftar on Friday but Rescue 1122 put out the flames within a few minutes. Soon after the incident, Wasa Managing Director Raja Shaukat Mehmood requested RDA Director General Abdul Sattar Issani to form an inquiry committee.
Upon this, the RDA chief assigned Malik Ghazanfar, director land, the task to ascertain the facts.
He also handed over the security of the Ring Road Project land acquisition record to the police. The inquiry committee got certificates that not a single document was damaged in the fire.
A senior official of RDA told Dawn that the fire had erupted due to an electric short circuit and destroyed only a table and a printer.
He said posts by social media users forced the RDA to take steps to ensure that the land acquisition record was safe.
He said the inquiry committee recorded the statements of security guards and other employees and obtained certificates from all branches of RDA and Wasa that no record was destroyed in the fire.
On the other hand, the incident drew criticism in social media which suspected that it was a conspiracy to damage information related to the land acquisition process of Ring Road Project.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has already taken notice of alleged changes to the alignment of the proposed ring road that not only increased the cost of the project by Rs25 billion but also benefited some private housing societies.
The RDA has suspended Land Acquisition Collector Waseem Tabish and sealed all records of the land acquisition.
Besides, the Punjab government has formed a fact-finding inquiry committee to look into the changes to the alignment of the road and directed it to submit a report in 10 days.
Punjab Chief Secretary Jawad Rafique Malik formed the committee, comprising Rawalpindi commissioner Syed Gulzar Hussain Shah, additional commissioner coordination Jahangir Ahmed and deputy commissioner Anwarul Haq.
The committee will investigate alleged changes to the alignment of Ring Road by including Paswal Zig Zag and Attock loop to benefit private parties, publication of an advertisement about the attachment of the road with China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) route without the approval of National Highway Authority (NHA).
Meanwhile, Punjab Public Private Partnership Authority under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Usman Buzdar canceled the bidding process of the mega project.
Sources told Dawn that the project was approved by the Punjab government at a meeting on Feb 19, 2021, under the chairmanship of Dr Salman Shah and no changes had been made to the alignment of route.
Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2021