ISLAMABAD: A significant number of officials have been working at their posts without any repercussions as the Capital Development Authority has failed to wrap up more than 200 inquiries, with some pending for almost three years.

The issue of the delay in the probe also raises a major question mark on the efficiency of the anti-corruption mechanism of the civic agency, which is imperative for good governance and building deterrence against such practices.

Sources told Dawn that as many as 200 inquiries related to various directorates — the estate wing, land, engineering, environment, planning, and building control among others — have been pending, with the land directorate and the estate wing atop the list. These departments deal with residential and commercial plots. Likewise, there are a number of inquiries regarding the allotment of plots on the basis of “bogus documents”, causing loss to the national exchequer.

CDA officials told Dawn that there was a need to expedite the ongoing inquiries so that action could be taken against the “guilty officials”, arguing that without strict measures, the governance at the civic body could not be improved. He said that in some cases, preliminary inquiries were conducted, but formal inquiries were not initiated to hold the accused officials accountable.

Insiders say delay in investigation compromise good governance; spokesperson says efforts afoot to address matter

According to officials, there was also a need to ascertain if there was any stay order granted by the courts against these inquiries, whereas the concept of ‘de-novo’ inquiries (repeat of inquiries) also needed to be looked at. In some cases, such inquiries were also conducted, which caused years-long delays in the completion.However, sources said some inquiries had been pending for years, with the majority of them from the past three years.“There are very few old cases as we have completed inquiries in most of the old cases. Currently, pending inquiries are from 2021 to 2024,” he said, adding that it was not necessary that all inquiries were related to corruption as some pertained to disciplinary grounds.

According to another official, the incumbent CDA chairman, Muhammad Ali Randhawa, seemed “very active” in improving the performance of the authority through routine inspections of development sites. He said the chairman should also take note of the pending inquiries and pass orders for their immediate completion. The official said that completion of inquiries was not a big deal as all of them could be completed within three months.

When contacted, CDA’s spokesperson Abeera Dilawar said that efforts were afoot to wrap up the pending inquiries. She told Dawn that over the past few months, “we completed about 70 inquiries which indicates that we are very serious” about this matter. However, 50 new inquiries were also initiated over the past few months, adding up to the tally of the pending investigations. She said that all pending inquiries would be completed “soon”.

To a query about the delay, she said that in some cases, the inquiry officers who were serving on a deputation basis were repatriated and in some cases, other investigation agencies, such as the NAB and the FIA, were conducting the inquiries for which they had been provided the record by the CDA so they could finish the probe.

According to the spokesperson, the management was seriously pursuing the matter of pending inquiries and would be completed as soon as possible. She said that recently CDA’s inquiry officers were strictly directed to complete inquiries.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2024

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