Welcome back: Tainted officer makes return to civic agency

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ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has welcomed back an officer whose last chequered stint with the agency helped drive his reputation into the ground. Ghulam Sarwar Sandhu, a BS-19 officer, was posted as the CDA Planning Director General on Tuesday with immediate effect, despite the fact that several inquiries against him are pending with a judicial commission probing corruption allegations in numerous development projects initiated by the civic body.

Many of those projects went through then-planning deputy director general Sandhu, who was made an officer on special duty (OSD) on October 22, 2012. OSD status is often used as a form of suspension with pay.

The judicial commission has been probing the allotment of land for the establishment of the Diplomatic Shuttle Service at a throwaway price of Rs2 per square yard. Sandhu is stated to have been directly involved in the allotment. The shuttle service was launched in 2005 to facilitate visa seekers, but has come under criticism for charging high rates and acting as a coercive monopoly.

Sources claimed that after the matter caught the attention of the media, Sandhu allegedly slipped the contract files out of the office records.

Similarly, another case pertaining to the allotment of hundreds of kanals to Bahria Town for the construction of the main access road to Bahria Enclave on Park Road is also being scrutinised by the judicial commission.

Sandhu had accorded the approval of allotment of precious land to Bahria Town using his discretionary power in the absence of his immediate boss, then-Planning and Design Member Tahir Shamshad.

There was no direct access to the Bahria Enclave, and facilitating Bahria Town is believed to have caused billions of rupees in loss to the authority.

Another case that the judicial commission has been probing includes Park Tower possession issue.

In addition, the civic agency official was also jailed for contempt of court after violating Islamabad High Court orders barring CDA staff from interacting with Faisal Sakhi Butt, then chairman of the prime minister’s task force on CDA.

Sandhu had been aggressively staring at the judge during a hearing, which led to the sentence.

CDA Spokesperson Ramzan Sajid while defending the reappointment of Sandhu said investigations into the cases were underway and until proven guilty no one could usurp the right to promotion or appointment.

“At this early stage, when judicial commission has just started investigations into the cases of Diplomatic Shuttle Service and access road to Bahria Enclave it would be premature to single out some officer for these wrongdoings,” Sajid said.


Courtesy: Tribune

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