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Centaurus Tower faces uncertain future

September 14, 2010

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ISLAMABAD, Sept 13: The country’s first ‘mix-use complex’ being built in the federal capital faces an uncertain future as its management and the Capital Development Authority (CDA) have developed serious differences over provision of services, resulting in withholding of payment amounting to around Rs1 billion to the latter, it has been learnt.

Centaurus Tower is located at F-8 Sector in the confluence of Jinnah and Faisal avenues.

The $350 million tower comprises an international standard mega mall, ultra-luxurious apartments and penthouses, modern corporate offices and a high-end deluxe hotel. The tower is planned to have 37 storeys.

An official said CDA’s ‘under-performing financial wing’ had made several attempts to get the blocked amount cleared but the stance of the tower’s management was clear that the money would be released after provision of utility facilities.

Though the civic agency is facing financial crisis, he said, it was under an agreement to ensure supply of water, electricity and other utility services. However, since the start of the construction work three years back, the CDA has not fulfilled its commitment in this regard.

An official privy to the development told Dawn that the management of Centaurus had held back three installments of payment amounting to Rs650 million on the pretext of non-provision of utility services. Besides, the company also owes Rs300 million to the CDA in return for a plot, they added.

In January this year, the tower’s management informed the civic agency that they needed around 16 megawatt electricity to energise the building.

The official said that as per laid-down policy of National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra), a grid station was required if the electricity consumption exceeded five megawatts.

As the construction of the project moved on, the cost of electricity supply to the building spreading over 6.95 acres also towered.

He said the cost of 20MW electricity supply, which was estimated at Rs252 million in 2007, had now shot up to Rs540 million, and these issues remained unsettled between the CDA and the builders.

Answering a question, he said: “It is the job of the agency to lay the drainage facilities, sewage lines, storm water drainage, garbage collection and other civic facilities but all it has been doing is making promises to the foreign investor.”

The builders have also complained to CDA over construction of Faisal Avenue Flyover near the building, terming it an intrusion into the privacy of the complex. He added: “They [tower’s management] also informed the authority that the flyover had direct view into the swimming pool of the building, forcing the management to redesign it.”

When approached, CDA spokesman Ramzan Sajid claimed: “We have no issues with the tower’s management and the utility facilities will be provided to them very soon.”

The authority, he said, had already selected a suitable location for the construction of the grid station and all the civic facilities’, including electricity, would be provided to the building.

The CDA had auctioned the commercial plot to the Saudi company running a joint venture with a Pakistani construction firm since 2005. The authority had fetched a record price from the auctioning of the plot.