CDA officials who granted illegal lease extension to Fecto held accountable

Cement factory Fecto that quarries limestone and is nestled in the Margalla Hills National Park area was granted an extension of lease illegally by the Capital Development Authority.

However, in a fresh move, an inquiry committee had been formed, headed by the most senior officers against three serving alleged accused officers as well as six retired officers.

The Human Resource Directorate Confidential Deputy Director (DD) Asif Ali Khan issued a notice mentioning that an inquiry committee has been formed against the three allegedly accused officers namely CDA Law Deputy Director General (DG) Najma Azhar, CDA West Environment Director Muhammad Irsha and CDA Sanitation Deputy Director Arif Masood over extension of lease to the Fecto Cement illegally.

The notification added that three members’ committee comprised upon the following officers. The committee will be headed by Audit & Accounts DG Fazal-i-Mabood as chairman of the inquiry committee, while two other members will be Works Director Habibullah Sheikh and Environment & Parks DD Rana Kashif Nazir.

The notice added that the committee also determines the role of the following officers if involved in any financial loss.

The retired officers consist of former Environement DG Dr Sheikh Suleman, former Environment Deputy DG Malik Aulya Khan, former Environment director Muzaffar Khan, former Forests additional director Irfan Khan, former Law director Abdul Baqi and former Regional Planning director Mehboob Ali Khan.

The human resource officer issued a notice mentioning that an inquiry committee has been formed against the three accused officers

The notification shows directives that the committee will submit its report in upcoming 15 days from the date of proceeding.

The above top brass official of the civic body is allegedly accused of awarding extension to a cement firm for carrying out mining activities in Margalla Hills which is banned according to Environment Laws.

The cement firm has in the past caused disturbances destructions resulting in environmental losses because of its heavy machinery and loud activities.

It is pertinent to mention that the 30-year limestone mining lease to Fecto expired on June 7, 2012 but was extended by the Islamabad Capital Territory Industries & Mineral Development director and the office of chief commissioner for another 18 years.

Supreme Court (SC)’s three-judge bench in 2015 while hearing an environment protection petition issued remarks that allowing pit mining is the most devastating form of environmental degradation.

In recent years, while presenting before the SC, the capital’s civic agency informed the court that the lease of a cement factory has been cancelled and a challan for Rs 420 million against it has been prepared for illegally operating at Margalla Hills area.

CDA submitted a report to the apex court on a suo motu case regarding illegal activities at Margalla Hills National Park area.

Following the formation of the inquiry committee, a top brass officer wishing anonymity said while talking exclusively to Daily Times that according to the Wildlife Ordinance 1979, mining activities are banned in Margalla Hills and if there’s a clear ordinance of environment, how come the top brass officers awarded extension to the cement firm? He added that as Pakistan is passing through serious consequences of global warming in recent times, in that sense awarding extension to environment polluters is a crime and accused faces should be dealt strictly. He expressed satisfaction with the officers heading the inquiry committee although he added that the report should be made public in future for media and courts.

Published in Daily Times, January 19th 2019.