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Lahore Development Authority: Director general removed under corruption cloud

LAHORE: The Punjab government has removed Omer Rasul as director general of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) over alleged corruption, The Express Tribune has learnt.

Abdul Jabbar Shaheen, director general of the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA), has been given the additional charge of LDA DG.

Rasul’s core team members including Mansoor Qadir, additional director general, and Socrat Aman Rana, LDA director, have asked the Services and General Administration Department to place them in other departments or grant them leave after the removal of their boss. Qasir Saleem, another official close to Rasul, has already been transferred from the LDA.

Rasul has been on sick leave for several weeks with pain in his joints. Sources in the LDA said that the Chief Minister’s Inspection Team presented a 19-point report to Shahbaz Sharif in December outlining the irregularities in the LDA during Rasul’s tenure.

These alleged irregularities included various dealings with regard to the Liberty Park and Ride Plaza. In December, the LDA hired Colliers International, a real estate company, for the sale/auction of shops in the new plaza.

The authority agreed to pay Colliers three percent commission on the sale of 80 shops and two restaurants in the plaza. But according to revenue rules, the government is not supposed to engage any company on a commission basis for the sale of a public asset.

Earlier, the authority had hired Al Imam Enterprises as architecture consultants for the project without advertising, which is also against government rules, for two percent of the total construction cost, around Rs660 million.

In September, the LDA had also selected Al Imam to draw up a development plan for 1,000 kanals next to the Lahore Expo Centre, this time after an advertisement and bidding process. But questions were raised about the transparency and merit of the process because one of the rival bidders was more prominent than Al Imam, said an official.
Further alleged irregularities occurred in the outgoing director general’s negotiations with various companies operating petrol pumps and compressed natural gas stations in the city. The leases of 91 petrol pumps and CNG stations established on government land in the city had expired and the Punjab government was planning to demolish them. Rasul was accused by some petrol pump owners of favouring certain companies. Khawaja Atif, president of the Petrol Pump Dealers Association, said the association had made accusations of corruption against Rasul and wanted him to be investigated. Rasul was not available for comment.

Contenders

Shaheen is one of the contenders to take over permanently as head of the LDA. The chief minister is reported to rate Shaheen as the best candidate, because of his impressive tenure as district coordination officer (DCO) of Kasur, but he has been offered the job in the past only to turn it down.

Other names in the running are Mian Mushtaq, the Bahawalpur commissioner, Khwaja Aamir, the tourism secretary, and Khurram Agha, the Multan DCO. Mushtaq is known to have the backing of Chief Secretary Nasir Mahmood Khosa.

Shaheen, who has taken over as head of the LDA in an acting capacity, is the 30th director general of the authority. Of the other 29 DGs, 16 lasted less than a year while 11 were in the post for two years or more. The longest-serving DG was Major General (retired) MH Ansari, who headed the LDA from May 2, 1978, to November 14, 1983.

Rasul was in the job for 18 months and 18 days, from June 12, 2009, to January 31, 2011.

Express Tribune

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